The average person is expected to spend more than 90,000 hours in their lifetime working. With this many hours spent working, it's no doubt a person's mental health will be greatly shaped by the workplace environment. That's why both employers and employees benefit from a workplace that champions mental health, which in turns affects work performance, judgement, morale, and more.
In this article, I'll highlight six worthwhile strategies and initiatives to get your employees feeling in top shape mentally.
A strategy is a long term goal whereas an objective is a smaller task. Objectives are completed to fulfill your overall initiative. The strategies outlined below are not mutually exclusive, you can tackle more than one at a time - I've numbered them for ease of reading:
1. Encourage employee engagement
Reason: employee contribution is key to engagement. If employees do not feel like their contributions matter, then they will have a hard time being engaged in their work.
Promote participation and decision-making among all employees
Create anonymous employee satisfaction surveys
2. Promote work-life balance
Reason: too much work leads to stressed out employees. A healthy balance ensures employees are motivated by their work but also maintain life outside of the office.
Offer flexible paid time off options
Create a culture where it is okay to take time off - this comes down to management leading by example
Offer flexible work hours
Offer remote working options
Encourage employees to use their vacation time
3. Build a culture of respectful behavior
Reason: treating one another with respect and trust ensures that the employees have good working relationships and in turn can communicate openly and freely.
Create a guideline of reasonable conduct
Make sure employees are aware of the guideline
Ensure collaborative efforts are more common than not
Conflict resolution practices must be in place
Ensure everyone working on a project is on progress by meeting frequently but efficiently
Be transparent in difficult situations
4. Recognize employee contribution
Reason: tying back to employee engagement, we want employee's to understand their opinion is valued. Contribution will lead to higher levels of engagement.
Hold one on one meetings with your staff
Praise the employee in public, discipline privately
Create an organizational structure where all employees are recognized and not just the upper management
Ensure that employees understand the roles that one another play within the business
5. Manage workloads
Reason: Overburdened and disengaged workers become stressed. In the long run, this could cause an employee to leave the company.
Work with employees to establish a balanced schedule
Devise a plan with each individual employee, but ensure teams have a general idea of where everyone is at
Allow for flexible deadlines, which can help overburdened employees
Share schedules between teams to keep members accountable
6. Build a culture of wellness
Reason: wellness is directly tied to mental health - having a hobby outside of work can greatly improve a person's well being even if not tied directly to the job itself
Add wellness events (such as yoga) into the team building efforts
Lead by example - corporate culture develops at the management level
Train managers to recognize and respond appropriately to mental health problems
Offer employee assistance programs and encourage employees to actually use them
Make wellness a priority
Provide in-building services related to wellness such as a massage therapist or napping stations
While the employer is responsible for improving the work culture and environment, it is primarily the employee's responsibility to put these objections into action and truly seek the change they seek. Here are individual steps you can take to improve your mental health in the office:
1. Take breaks
Get some fresh air
Look far away for 1 minute every 20-30 minutes
Stretch when stiff... or simply take deep breaths
Bring a healthy snack to work to revitalize your morale
Drink a sufficient amount of water per day
3. Sleeping habits
Get at least 7 hours of sleep
Be open - let your coworkers or employer know what is on your mind
Take the day off if feeling unwell. It's better to rest for one day then struggle through the week.
Learn how a Wellness Spending Account can improve your workplace:
Listen to our podcast episode about Mental Health in the Workplace: