During the last year, everyone has been affected by the pandemic crisis in some way. This helped recognise the importance of prioritising mental health and raising mental awareness in both personal and professional lives. As part of this, workplaces have worked to destigmatise issues around mental health. Employees are to feel better supported.
Leaders can help promote mental health in workplaces with several implementations. In return, leaders will create positive change in workplaces and communities. We’ve listed a few areas you can address to help drive mental health awareness which also improves employee performance.
Communicating effectively with your team
A report from a Qualtrics and SAP study found that employees who suffered from poor communication with management endured a 23 percent higher chance to experience a decline in their mental health since the outbreak. This is understandable when economic uncertainty and fears of physical safety were prominent. People searched for answers from their workplace leaders for clarity and to ease the worries they had surrounding their professional lives. The concept of clear communication can always be applied, and employees deserve the right to be communicated with as primary stakeholders of their companies. Therefore, leaders need to commit to open dialogue with their workforce and allow themselves to be available to support their employees.
One of the positives to come from the last year is the normalisation of mental health challenges through a sense of shared trauma and uncertainty. With most people experiencing some sort of discomfort caused by the pandemic. The universal aspect of the experience has decreased the stigma associated with mental health problems. Additionally, if leaders themselves can reveal their own vulnerability by sharing their own personal experiences, it can help further destigmatise and normalise dialogue surrounding mental health.
Showing vulnerability can create empathy, as when we open ourselves up to others, they can feel empowered to open up themselves. Taking this important step can help drive positive dialogue around mental health or other pressing issues that workplace employees may have or want to discuss.
Another common issue encountered by people who battle their mental health issues at work is a feeling of powerlessness in their position. According to psychologists when we are afforded control in our jobs we can also feel in charge of our destinies. By adopting a sense of autonomy in the workplace, leaders can help improve the mental well-being of their teams. Employees feel autonomous when they are given a meaningful role in decision-making and when their inputs are taken seriously. As a result, empowered employees are more engaged, productive, and loyal.
Short-term, long hours may seem manageable to employees in their workplaces, but sustained pressure and a poor work/life balance can quickly lead to stress and burnout. This reduces employee productivity, performance, and creativity. To avoid this from happening, leaders can encourage staff to take full lunch breaks, avoid working at weekends, and exercise in their spare time.
Flexible working, especially during remote working can help support healthier and more productive ways of working for all staff. For example, it can help employees reduce stress levels by allowing a later start time twice a week to accommodate exercise. Whenever possible, leaders should consider themselves role models for better work habits and encourage their staff by leading by example.
Keep a running conversation
Everyone has mental health which is present at all times. As part of this, we need to keep a running dialogue around the issue. This could mean that as a leader of your business, maintaining constant encouragement with your employees to keep the mental health conversation going in the workplace.
Lead by example, this could be done by arranging regular one-to-one meetings (via Zoom or Microsoft Teams due to current times) during which you discuss your own personal mental health with them. Outside of meetings with staff, check in on how employees are feeling and what further support they need. Additionally, maybe ask people twice how they are to add extra effectiveness.
A report by Time to Change revealed that 75 percent of people will say they are okay even if they are not. By asking twice, you may discover an issue that previously went undetected. Ensuring that you keep the conversation going will give staff the encouragement to reflect more about their mental health.
Invest in training
Mental health should be a priority in any workplace, more now than ever. As part of this, implementing proactive and preventive mental health training for leaders, managers, and individual employees should be considered. If you don’t have the budget to invest in training, mental health resource courses are a good low-cost alternative. Courses like this can help spread awareness and offer support that everyone could benefit from.