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5 Ways Management Can Support Mental Health in the Workplace

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Many sectors of society have made investments toward greater mental health awareness–a movement that has definitely taken root in the business world. However, while most businesses have started incorporating mental health initiatives, such practices are sometimes dismissed as “the right thing to do.”

While the altruistic component of mental health awareness is a worthwhile consideration, it is far from the only reason that businesses should be focused on improving the mental health of their workforce, as poor mental health can negatively impact a business’ bottom line. Roughly 83% of employees report work-related stress and anxiety, with such conditions proven to decrease productivity, engagement, communication, and physical performance. 

As a result, it is critical that managers take intentional steps to improve employee well-being, with the following breakdown providing 5 ways management can support mental health in the workplace. 

1. Promote Work/Life Balance

There has always been the perception that a good employee is one who arrives early and stays late. Now that more jobs are going remote, such diligence is being manifested through employees logging into work on their days off and answering emails at all hours of the night.

While employees may be willing–and even eager–to work these extended hours in the beginning, burnout will quickly ensue, and employees will start to harbor feelings of resentment toward their jobs for infringing on their personal time. In fact, statistics show that when employees work long hours, 27% will begin to experience depression, 34% will feel anxious, and 58% will feel irritable–all of which will have a negative impact on their performance.

Therefore, it is critical that companies find ways to promote a healthy/work-life balance. Some ideas to achieve this include:

  • Encouraging employees to log out of work 5 minutes early, as opposed to praising them for working 5 minutes late
  • Offering flexible schedules that include late starts and remote work days
  • Relaxing dress codes to make work feel like a more natural part of the day
  • Making it simple to request time off, as too much paperwork or too many signatures can make requesting time off intimidating 

2. Invest in Improved Facilities

There is no better solution for how to make employees feel valued than by demonstrating that they are deserving of the best facilities. Cold, gray walls and cramped offices can make work feel like a veritable prison. The most attractive modern workspaces leverage the mood-boosting properties of natural sunlight, employing large windows, open floor plans, and modular glass partitions. Workspaces should be customizable to meet the needs of each individual employee–not cookie-cutter cubicles that suppress employees’ sense of individuality. 

For those companies working 100% remotely, do not feel like you get a free pass on facilities. Be sure to send your remote employees innovative office furniture to help them design their home office. Give them allowances for items such as office supplies and printing so that they do not get stressed about having to pay for work-related items out of pocket. 

3. Offer Innovative Compensation Plans

Life looks a lot different today than it did for previous generations, with changing family structures, life responsibilities, and social pressures influencing contemporary professionals’ well being. Top that off with a global pandemic that reminded everyone of the transitory nature of life, and many employees are left reassessing if the rewards of going to work every day are worth it. 

As a result, modern employees are motivated by much more than a salary and basic fringe benefits. Sure, competitive pay is still an important part of keeping employees happy in their positions, but some 4 million people left their jobs in June 2021 alone, proving that earning a paycheck is not the only thing on workers’ minds. Employees want to feel like their compensation is being customized to account for their unique needs, making benefits such as paid childcare, professional house cleaning services, and ridesharing passes some ways that employers can help balance the stresses that arise from going to work every day. 

4. Openly Discuss Mental Health in the Workplace

Even though mental health awareness and initiatives are increasing, it can still be a bit of a taboo topic to openly discuss. This may increase feelings of anxiety in the 1 in 5 adults living with a mental illness, as they feel like they have to fight the issue alone. 

Therefore, as a manager, it is important that you encourage open discussions about mental health in the workplace. Even if it is something as simple as giving employees a forum to vent their frustrations and not let negative emotions remain pent up, it can still be a positive exercise. Additionally, as a leader, it is critical that you show vulnerability and be willing to open up about your own stresses, frustrations, and anxieties to build trust in your team. 

5. Give Employees Tools for Physical Health

There are some powerful correlations between good mental health and good physical health. For example, exercising is shown to improve self esteem and cognitive function, while a healthy diet is known to help regulate blood sugar and eliminate the symptoms of withdrawal associated with fried foods high in trans fat. 

As a manager, you can improve employee mental health by taking steps to improve physical health. Set schedules to allow chunks of time for exercise, such as through early releases or extended breaks in the middle of the day. As opposed to the typical processed office snacks, consider fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Improve Staff Mental Health

Mental health awareness is an important topic in the United States, a trend that has taken the business world by storm. It is important for businesses to show care for their employees for both altruistic and financial reasons, as positive mental health can lead to increased productivity, engagement with work, interaction with peers, and physical performance. By using the 5 tips listed above, managers of all types of companies can help support mental health in the workplace.

Guest Author, Sam Willis

Bio: Sam Willis is a business and finance writer that focuses on helping small business owners increase the value of their business. He specializes in topics related to business valuation, business management and business acquisitions.

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