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- Supporting Your Employees' Mental Health in the Workplace | Getting Hired
Mental Health in the Workplace: Why Support Is So Important | Getting Hired
Workplace stress is a growing problem that can take a toll on mental health, leading to problems such as anxiety, depression, and burnout among employees. These conditions can significantly impact work performance, leading to decreased productivity and job loss.
For many people trapped in this vicious cycle, work stress leads to poor mental health, which contributes to poor performance at work, causing more work stress, and so on. It's this cycle that makes it critical for employers to provide support for mental health in the workplace. By creating a healthy work environment where employees feel valued, appreciated, and supported in their mental health, employers can help reduce workplace stress and improve the team's overall well-being.
Keep reading to learn more about the relationship between work and mental health and several ways you can support your employees' mental health as an employer.
How the Workplace Can Impact Mental Health
Workplace stress has increased significantly in the past three decades. A recent study by the American Psychological Association found that over half of all workers report that their job is very or extremely stressful. When workers are stressed, it impacts their ability to work efficiently and effectively, leading to poor job performance, absenteeism or presenteeism (when employees come to work but don't perform well), increased sick leave, and even loss of talent.
Stress negatively impacts mental health, but chronic stress has also been linked to physical health issues, increasing the risk of conditions such as:
- Heart disease
What Causes Workplace Stress?
So, what causes stress in the workplace? It can be a combination of several things.
For some employees, it's a lack of resources and overwhelming responsibility. For others, it's a lack of work culture or flexibility in the role. Toxic work environments that limit internal growth or don't compensate their workers properly can also lead to the downfall of workplace mental health for many.
How Mental Health Issues Can Impact the Workplace
Mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, can significantly impact workplace productivity. Depression and anxiety alone cost employers an estimated 12 billion working days per year, adding up to nearly $1 trillion in lost productivity annually.
Mental health issues can also lead to:
- Decreased morale
- Increased absenteeism
- Extended periods of leave
Employers may also face costly legal action if they do not take reasonable steps to protect their employees from discrimination based on mental illness.
When your workers don't feel fulfilled, cared for, and supported by their employer and workplace, you'll feel that missing piece far beyond the individual employees. It begins to seep into the quality of work and eat into productive hours.
Why Mental Health Support Is So Important in the Workplace
Providing support for mental health in the workplace is essential for employers to ensure their workers are healthy, engaged, and productive.
Not only does mental health support help employees combat stress, but it also promotes a positive work culture that leads to increased job satisfaction and improved retention rates. It keeps workers feeling connected, valued, and appreciated instead of isolated from their peers or inadequate in their roles.
Employers should strive to create a psychologically safe space for their employees where everyone feels heard, respected, and free to express themselves. Ultimately, this freedom helps create an environment conducive to collaboration and productivity.
When you support mental health in the workplace, employers experience greater financial success and less turnover due to improved job satisfaction among employees.
Ways To Support Mental Health in the Workplace
Looking for ideas for ways to support your employees' mental health at work? Here are a few actionable tips:
Robust Employee Assistance Program
Ensure your employees have access to the tools and support they need when it comes to managing their mental health by providing online or in-person counseling services, educational resources, and stress management programs.
The goal of employee assistance programs (EAP) is to support employees with issues that may be negatively impacting their well-being or job performance. It should cover a broad range of issues with various solutions, such as wireless panic buttons to alleviate stress about workplace violence or emergencies, legal support, counseling for work or relationship problems, and more.
Creating designated areas for employees to relax and destress throughout the day can help support their mental health.
The space should be comfortable, with plenty of natural light, seating, and a selection of activities such as puzzles or coloring books. It can also double as a space for team meetings or individual work sessions. Add plants and snacks for an extra boost.
Regular Mental Health Check-Ins
Make mental health check-ins a priority by scheduling time for employees to talk one-on-one with their managers and voice any concerns or needs. You can schedule check-ins weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, depending on the organization's size.
These conversations should be in a nonjudgmental and supportive environment that encourages open communication. Look at them as an opportunity for managers to actively listen and offer solutions or resources if needed.
Another great idea is to pair these check-ins with mental health days. Some companies are now offering free mental health days to their employees as needed, and adding a mental health check-in upon return to the office can help pinpoint issues to avoid in the future.
Free or Subsidized Mental Health Treatment
Free or subsidized mental health treatment can take many forms, including the following:
- Individual counseling sessions
- Group therapy
- Meditation or mindfulness classes
By removing the financial barrier to seeking help, your employees are more likely to get the support they need. Making these services available to your employees will let them know that their mental health is valued and taken seriously.
Final Thoughts: Making Mental Health Work Better for Work
Mental health support should be considered a crucial part of any workplace if the organization truly wants to succeed.
By taking these steps, employers can help ensure that their employees are healthy and supported both physically and mentally, which, in turn, creates a positive work environment where everyone can succeed.
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