The world was in a whirlwind when the pandemic struck. Stress and anxiety built up as organizations closed or minimized their operations. Social distancing kept most people physically healthy but induced mental health challenges, not to mention the unwavering worry of contracting the virus.
Even with the pandemic slowing down, it still isn’t easy to bounce back to normal mentally. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that the mental health of almost half of Americans took a turn for the worst from 2020 to 2021.
The emotional distress you went through may have impacted nearly all areas of your life, including your job. Discussions on mental health used to be taboo. However, the more people acknowledge that it’s a serious issue, the more it’s talked about openly. In the workplace, employee mental health is vital.
Employers should make it a point to be a positive force in fostering a conducive work environment for their employees for self-care and good mental health. Disengaged workers can cost businesses at least $450 billion in losses every year. Keeping your team members in good shape mentally is also a good way of keeping them engaged and fit for work.
How can you improve mental health in the workplace? Here are some useful tips to show your support.
Conduct mental health training and awareness seminars
As a leader, you should help set up training and seminars regarding mental health awareness for you and your team members. These workshops will help them recognize signs of depression and stress and encourage them to seek help from mental health professionals. You can either invite experts to your workplace and have the session there or recommend virtual or offsite programs they can join.
Talk openly about mental health
It would be best to nurture an environment where employees can talk openly about their feelings. Make your staff feel that they’re not alone. The best way to foster a more open and understanding environment for talking about mental health is by starting from the top. Encouraging your team members and other top management and drafting helpful policies that create safe spaces are great ways to start.
Make mental health screening accessible
Screenings for mental health should be free or subsidized. Employees should be able to approach a qualified medical professional or wellness coach and get feedback on their situation, especially since many may not be aware that they’re showing signs and symptoms of mental health issues. They typically brush it off and label it stress when it’s so much more than that.
Offering accessible screening like Mental Health America (MHA)’s screening tool or paid leaves for in-person screenings can help employees assess their issues and seek treatment.
Include mental health benefits in your Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
A study found that for every $1 invested in EAP, the company can expect $3–$10 in ROI. However, offering mental health benefits in your EAP isn’t enough. It would help to remind your employees that they could access a handful of free therapy sessions when needed.
Another study shows that EAP utilization averages below 10%, as there is often a stigma associated with employees who take it. By being vocal about EAP and how everyone who avails of it has the full support of the organization, you can bring these numbers up and hopefully improve mental health among your employees.
Rethink the open office plan
The open office plan may not be for everyone. Talk to your employees about what kind of setup they’re comfortable with and make the necessary adjustments. If your space allows, you can make room for quiet areas so that employees can work away from all the productive ruckus. A study found that noise can increase negative mood by 25% and increase one’s sweat response by 34%.
Consider setting up a hybrid work arrangement
Now that most workers have experience working on-site and remotely full-time, they can grasp which arrangement works best for them. Choosing only one from either setup may not be the most beneficial for your company. According to a survey by Volley, seven out of 10 employees working from home feel more isolated. Concurrently, 63% of employees feel less engaged in the workplace.
You can consider setting up a hybrid work arrangement, providing employees the freedom to choose and achieve a work-life balance. They’ll be able to make time for self-care and contribute to better performance.
Take it easy with the Zoom meetings
Zoom burnout is real. It’s when you experience fatigue after a long day of numerous video conferences. You go through intense close-up eye contact during a normal remote workday and see yourself on video for hours, which can be mentally challenging.
To avoid this issue, you can ease up on video interactions. There are meetings in which live voices are enough. It would help if you understood that life could get in the way. Don’t get annoyed if you hear kids in the background. Your employees may be juggling their work and childcare. Lean into it and use it as an opportunity to get to know your staff.
Promote Psychological Wellness
People are starting to embrace the reality that mental illnesses exist among us. By acknowledging them, we also recognize their impact. The workplace is typically a stressful environment, making employees prone to mental issues such as anxiety or depression. As part of the leadership bench, you should offer your support to your staff by raising awareness, being empathetic, and providing tools that can help.
If you need help with leadership coaching, contact Coaching 4 Good. Our engaging and empowering career coaches will guide your staff to become well-rounded leaders ready to take your company to the next level. Give your team members the support they deserve with Coaching 4 Good.
Kim Garmany is the Chief Operating Officer at Coaching 4 Good, a woman-owned career and leadership development company based in Austin, Texas. Leading with kindness and compassion, Kim has spent most of her career working with nonprofit organizations to build stronger communities. She believes that all people should have access to a safe place to live and dignified work.
Take a look at what she’s up to now at coaching4good.com.
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