In recent years, mental health has become a trending topic in the HR world. In spite of this, the topic still remains somewhat of a taboo in many workplaces. Many employees are hesitant to speak openly about their mental health struggles due to fear of judgement from both colleagues and management.
This is why it is crucial for an organisation to create a culture that supports employees' mental health. While this may sound like a daunting task to those not familiar with the topic, creating a workplace that is sympathetic and understanding of employees' mental health is easier than it seems.
Here are five ways through which your company can support employees and their mental health:
1. Facilitate clear communication
Offering clear lines of communication between management and employees can create a sense of ease in the workplace. Checking in on a one-to-one basis is critical to understanding your employees state of mind and giving them a sense of individuality. Often, people feel intimated to speak about their mental health as when opening up about such a topic, it opens them up to vulnerability. This is especially true when they are not sure of what the feedback would be as the stigma surrounding mental health is one that brings with it judgement and punitive action. In order to minimise such feelings, one can set up office hours and create a safe environment where employees have the opportunity to freely drop in and have an informal conversation.
2. Encourage proper self-care
Productive employees are ones who take care of themselves. Encouraging proper self-care includes promoting frequent breaks, walking meetings instead of zoom check-ins, prioritising switching off after work and during vacation days with a no work hours policy etc. Setting and encouraging healthy behaviours and boundaries results in healthy employees. It is also important to understand the link between mental and physical health. Encouraging a proper sleep routine, providing access to a nutritionist or supplying healthy food options at the workplace and encourage walking are all beneficial ways to making sure your employees feel their best. It is also important that employers demonstrate a healthy work-life balance themselves and then encouraging employees to follow suit as this shows the team that as the employer values their well-being as much as their productivity and performance.
3. Educate your team
The first step to being able to support employees' mental health is to train management to be able to pick up on signs of emotional distress so they can react in a supportive manner. Mental health training and education workshop is one way of educating your team to spot the warning signs and also be able to offer support to employees that may not be feeling their best mentally in a suitable manner.
On the other hand, educational workshops and seminars can also be beneficial for employees as these can teach them about mental health issues and teach them coping skills so they are better able to manage stress, negative thoughts and emotional distress themselves.
4. Provide employees with the resources to help them
Following our previous point, nowadays, there are various tools and resources to aid in supporting employees' mental health. Apart from educating management and employees about mental health and coping mechanism they can use to deal with these issues, there are also other resources one can provide to employees in order to help them.
For example, if the office space allows for it, provide a quiet room that encourages downtime. Having a specific space dedicated to relaxation can provide a good opportunity for employees to stretch their legs and pull themselves away from their screens.
5. Include mental health coverage as part of your benefits
Organisations offer various benefits and perks to their employees. Mental health benefits can take many forms; providing free or subsidised health insurance that offers mental health coverage, free assistance from mental health professionals, allowing mental health days apart from the normal sick leave, flexible working options, amongst others.
These types of benefits can be part of the solution to creating a culture of understanding and positivity when it comes to tackling the mental health stigma. Speaking to employees to understand what their needs are is crucial to providing a package tailored to their specific needs.
Mental health is a vast topic, especially when it comes to finding ways to support employees in the workplace. The above is not an exhaustive list but a starting point for how to start making positive changes within the workplace. Creating a culture that supports employees' mental health and prioritising employees' health and wellness is key to running a healthy business.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.