Even if you enjoy going to work, it can take a toll on your overall health. For example, working in an office, your entire career can literally kill you. Between sitting all-day, unhealthy eating habits, and stress, it’s easy to see why this isn’t an exaggeration. Throw in financial insecurity, work-life conflicts, and problems that exist outside of work, and you also have a team who may be struggling with their mental health as well. Leaders can improve mental health in the workplace.
Your first instinct may be, well, that’s not my problem. But, consider the fact that according to a report from the Mental Health in the Workplace Summit found for that for U.S. adults between the ages of 15 to 44 that mental illness is the leading cause of disability. Additionally, mental health is the leading cause of absenteeism — even ahead of sickness or injury. As a consequence, that negatively impacts your bottom line.
Why you should care about your employee’s well-being.
When employees are absent, that means they could miss deadlines because they’re playing catch-up with their work. Or, it could mean asking other team members to pick up the slack. Pulling these individuals puts additional stress on them because now they have a heavier workload and are busting their tails to get everything completed on time.
Even when employees are at work, they’re not always 100% present. Their minds are not focused on what work needs to get done. But, it’s somewhere else — like worrying about how they’re going to pay for a bill or manage conflict at home.
As if that weren’t enough, when not addressed mental can also affect a person’s physical health, or change their behavior. More problematic is that they may turn to unhealthy habits like drinking, smoking, or drug use to cope.
Ultimately, mental health brings productivity to a screeching halt. Employees with depression report their productivity at 70% of their peak performance. Furthermore, the World Health Organization states that depression and anxiety have cost the global economy a staggering $1 trillion annually because of lost productivity.
So, yeah. The mental health of your employees should be a priority. It’s not just because it impacts your business. But, also because you’re an emotionally intelligent leader who genuinely cares for his or her peeps.
And you also can improve their mental health. Want to know how? Start by using the following five tactics to improve mental health within your organization.
1. Frequently check-in with your team members.
The most comfortable place to start is to get to know your staff and check-in with them. When they’re taking a break, stop by their desk and ask how everything’s going. For your remote team, you can shoot them an email asking the same question. It’s a proven way to show them that you actually care about them as people and value them as employees.
More importantly, it builds trust. When you work with the same people every day, you can begin to notice when something’s off. Don’t just brush this aside. Take this as an opportunity to be supportive. You don’t want to pry. But, if they trust you, they may open up and let you know what’s wrong. From there, you could share suggestions or inquire about how you can help. Sometimes, however, they need someone to listen to them.
I’ve also found that it’s useful to be transparent about your own mental health. I know entrepreneurs think that they’re flawless. But, we’ve all been through our own struggles. Opening up about your own mental health illustrates to others that this is a safe environment where one’s well-being isn’t swept under the carpet.
2. Foster a positive work environment.
Positive work environments are more productive. They can also reduce turnover and improve employee happiness and satisfaction. Best of all? They’re not too difficult to construct if you do the following:
- Develop a core set of values and priorities, so everyone is aligned towards a common goal and has meaning to their work.
- Establish appropriate organizational policies, such as strict policies again, bullying and sexual harassment.
- Greet your team every morning when they arrive to work.
- Enhance your own emotional intelligence so that you can be empathetic and aware of how others are feeling.
- Show gratitude and appreciation for all the hard work your team does.
- Create a more comfortable and productive workplace, such as providing your team with ergonomic furniture. Also, let your employees personalize their own workspaces and place lots of plants throughout the office.
- Never use fear as a tactic to motivate your team.
- Have some fun by celebrating milestones and playing games like team building activities.
3. Have clarity, while granting autonomy.
I used to get so frustrated when working with my dad either around the house or at his business. He wasn’t always the best at giving directions. There were definitely times when he said, “Pick that up and put it over there,” as he pointed to several different areas.
Just imagine how your team would feel if you weren’t clearly explaining what their responsibilities are and what you expect from them. I’m sure they would be stressed and just as irked as I was with my dad.
At the same time, you don’t want to micromanage employees. Once they know what needs to be done, let them take the ball and run with it. Granting them ownership shows that you trust them to work however and wherever they see fit. In turn, this motivates them to be more productive.
Additionally, those battling mental health often feel powerless. So, when a struggling individual more control over their work, they feel empowered and free to make their own decisions.
And, if you allow your employees to have more flexible schedules, then they won’t be afraid to take a mental health day when they need it. The reason is that if need a break today, it’s not the end of the world. They’ll take the day off and get back to work tomorrow feeling refreshed.
4. Promote work/life balance.
We all want our team members to put in a good day’s work. But, that doesn’t mean we expect them to arrive early, stay late, and answer your emails as soon as it’s sent. Doing so will only make them more stressed and anxious. And, eventually, they’ll get burned out.
Encourage everyone, even yourself, to take frequent breaks throughout the day. Suggest that employees take a vacation. And, do not bother your team when they’re off-the-work. That means no midnight texts or emails during the weekend. They need this time to disconnect and attend to their own lives outside of work.
5. Invest in your employee’s well-being.
Finally, make your team’s well-being a top priority. You can start by offering EAP benefits. You can also provide gym memberships, mental health screenings, healthy snacks, and meditation rooms. And, you could host in-service events that focus on areas like stress management or have more meetings outside.
And, as I already mentioned, don’t punish your employees if they need to take a mental health day or leave work early to speak with a counselor. I mean you wouldn’t give them any grief if they had a dentist appointment, right?