We are living in highly unprecedented times with every third person experiencing some level of anxiety or mild depression. This has popularised the topic of mental health in workplaces and pushed employers to take a hard look at their work culture to notice how they are supporting their employees.
With most of the workforce working remotely, it has become difficult to understand what an employee is going through. Although workplaces are opening up, there is uncertainty about the level of safety an employee can feel in the workplace.
In such situations, business owners and managers need to step up and take charge of things to ensure employees feel safe. Apart from making them feel physically safe by ensuring high levels of sanitization, it is equally important to support their mental health at this time.
Here’s how you can ensure employee well being and build a work culture that supports their mental health:
1. Help them achieve a good work-life balance
Despite working from home, employee work-life balance has become poor over the course of the pandemic. This is major because employees do not differentiate between work time and personal time when they work from the comfort of their homes.
If your employees are not spending enough time with their family or investing in their own growth, eventually they will experience burnout which may deteriorate their mental health. To help employees achieve a healthy work-life balance, you can provide training sessions that include webinars with mental health experts.
You can make use of a Learning Management System (LMS) to deliver training digitally and monitor their training progress. It is easy to pick one that aligns with your budget by comparing LMS pricing and features. You can visit here to learn more.
Digital training is often a set of courses that can be ordered from course developers, or you can make them yourself using special e-learning authoring tools. Several of them are compared in this article.
2. Use communication to normalize mental health challenges
Have you ever spoken to your boss about your mental health? The answer will mostly be a NO for a lot of people because of the stigma attached to the topic.
In this phase, isolation has led to us feeling somewhat similar kinds of frustration. It is crucial for managers and employers to open to their employees and try to normalize the topic of mental health.
This encourages them to share their own experiences which will help managers understand how to support them better. Such behaviors are very powerful in building connections with fellow workers.
3. Offer employees the necessary support
Support does not have to mean just verbal affirmations of being there for your employees. Employers need to show support through their actions as well so employees feel the company actually cares for their mental well-being.
Employers must adapt according to the changing times and provide employees the flexibility to support them. This means providing them the autonomy to structure their day according to their convenience.
This requires managers to give up their micro-managing behavior and show faith in employees to do their job well. Those looking after kids will really appreciate this as they may not have the convenience to work the normal 9-6 due to their additional parent duties.
4. Walk the talk
Often managers show support for their team but end up behaving very reckless when it comes to looking after their own mental health. While you sharing your mental health challenges will most definitely help them relate to you, but you need to practice what you preach as well.
Show your employees through your behavior what it means to prioritize your own well-being. For instance, when you take a stand to not answer any work calls after a certain hour, it shows your employees that you don’t want to be disturbed when you are enjoying your family time or my time.
5. Sometimes, just listen
Listening is one skill that every manager should have. If a manager is able to effectively develop this skill, you will find that your employees are a lot happier and more engaged.
You can start by holding one-on-one meetings with your employees. A meeting where you don’t talk about work. Instead, you give them an opportunity to discuss their areas of responsibility as well as share any concerns that they might have to pertain to their colleagues or even the management.
You should also encourage them to lead discussions and create an environment that makes your employees feel comfortable when they raise a topic of their choice.
6. Offer them de-stressing ways
Stress is one of the key factors that can cause one to face mental health issues. Thus, leaders should do everything in their power to offer a recreational space to their employees. This will allow them to relax and escape the stressful environment every once in a while.
For this, you can add game rooms to your office, open a gym, or even develop some walking paths where your employees can just decompress and unwind. This will help improve employee productivity and also make them happier.
You can also opt for a well-designed volunteer program. During this program, you can encourage employees to take a particular number of PTO days that are to be used especially for volunteering. It’s a proven method to reduce stress.
7. Maintain transparency
There are many great organizations that fail at one thing – transparency. The more things you hide from your employees, the more trust they lose. Consequently, it will put a lot of pressure on them as without transparency, misunderstandings take birth.
Misconceptions and misunderstandings often lead to stress. And stress is one of the major factors that adds to one’s mental health issues.
Thus, if you wish to be an organization that supports mental health, you must foster a transparent, open environment. Make your communication with your employees honest and direct, even if things aren’t going as planned. This will make employees feel like they are a part of the organization. They will feel valued, trusted, and more motivated towards helping you reach greater heights.
The pandemic has brought up the conversation of mental health to the forefront. It’s best to make the most of this and reform your work culture for the betterment of your employees.