Mental health refers to the way we think and feel, and our ability to deal with ups and downs in daily life. This is something we all have and can fluctuate as our lives and circumstances change over time. Being aware of those changes is important as good mental health gives us the ability to deal with new challenges and play a full part in our relationships, workplace, and community.
Supporting your employees’ mental health is important, particularly since work plays a major part in our lives being the place where we spend most of our time, make friends and fulfil our sense of purpose. Addressing wellbeing and mental health at work can increase overall happiness levels as well as productivity. The good news is that you can implement small changes that can results in substantial improvements.
1) Read the signs
Understanding the signs of poor mental health will help you identify and assist employees who may be suffering in silence. The key is to look out for changing patterns of behaviour and arising negative conduct.
In fact, a distressed employee might make uncharacteristic mistakes, become chaotic, appear distracted, procrastinate more, and look tired or drained. Additionally, keep a look out for changes in attitude such as lack of motivation, short temper and isolation.
2) Talk things through
Talking about mental health may seem daunting but instigating a conversation in a warm and authentic way can open the door to better horizons.
Find the necessary time and place to discuss mental health issues with individual employees and take the necessary steps to ensure the conversation is comfortable and does not feel rushed. Listen actively to what the person has to say and encourage sharing by displaying open and attentive body language. Do not show signs of surprise or judgement even though it may be challenging to hear difficult or upsetting things. Your role is to reassure and encourage the person, which is done effectively by managing your own feelings and remaining neutral. Additionally, make sure you ask them what they want to happen instead of simply bombarding them with potential solutions.
3) Check your workplace culture
Being aware of how corporate culture may affect employees means we are able to make the right changes to correct any negative ensued behaviours. A positive company culture will promote openness and make employees feel supported, valued, respected and able to speak up. On the other hand, a negative corporate culture may result in feelings of injustice, being under-appreciated and under-rewarded. Changes need to occur especially when the effects of poor culture lead to workplace conflict and bullying such as undermining colleagues and spreading malicious rumours.
4) Encourage a healthy lifestyle
Having a healthy diet can greatly improve your wellbeing, however unhealthy office snacking is a bad habit that many of us are guilty of. You can encourage positive changes by making healthy snacks available such as fruit and non-sugary cereal bars. For optimum results this should be combined with promoting an active lifestyle, which can be done by offering active team building days out, discounts on gym memberships and incentives such as cycle to work schemes. Sleep is another crucial factor when it comes to mental health and can be promoted by introducing nap areas for those who work long shift patterns and practice demanding professions. It is also worth considering that alcohol is a key element affecting sleep, so think about swapping after work drinks for a healthier socialising alternative.
5) Promote work-life balance
Giving your employees permission to work from home is a great way to promote work-life balance, and research has shown it in fact improves productivity and workforce satisfaction. This can be implemented by establishing set days to work from home or giving flexibly within a certain monthly or weekly limit. A flexible approach is particularly effective for employees with mental health conditions that cause them to experience up and down days. Implementing such changes is extremely straightforward as it generally only requires providing employees with a laptop and remote access software. You can also look after your employees’ work-life balance by ensuring they have a balanced job design. This means ensuring they have a reasonable workload, achievable deadlines and all the necessary human, informational and/or physical resources to carry out their jobs effectively.