Nurturing Mental Health in the Workplace
May 20, 2022
Loneliness is a word that has probably been thrown around a bit more than usual lately and has forced us to pay extra attention to the mental health of our people at work. This year’s Mental Health Awareness Month centers around the theme of loneliness, the effect it has on our mental health, and how we as a community must all play a part in reducing its impact.
Poor mental health affects 1 in 4 people in the UK alone and we at Beaconforce understand the importance of continuing this conversation as well as highlighting the causes of poor mental health at work and more importantly delve into the preventative measures that can support you in managing your mental health and strengthening your mental resilience.
Whether your employees are in the office or fully remote, now is the time to prioritize their mental health and take the time to learn about the different ways you can improve feelings of community and connectivity, focus, and overall well-being within your organization.
The fact that there has been a complete change in the way we talk about mental health in the workplace is already a step in the right direction. Employees now feel a lot more comfortable than before expressing their concerns and challenges with their team and this is the key to true progression.
Having positive mental health impacts every aspect of our life and allows us to cope with challenges both good and bad at work or at home. With good mental health we gain the ability to recognize, express, and regulate the way we feel and understand how to react and behave in a way that is beneficial to us.
At work, we are able to adjust to changing roles and responsibilities with ease. When difficult periods arise (which they always do) we are equipped to handle them strategically allowing us to thrive and ultimately reach our full potential.
From the pandemic to political unrest globally, we’re in a much different place mentally than we were many years ago. We have a lot of unpredicted major stresses that have unfolded in a short period of time that further add to the state of our mental health both in general and even more in our workplace.
Read more about How the Russian Invasion of Ukraine is Affecting your Employees
The normalization of talking about our mental state, especially at work. From 2020 to 2021, we have witnessed major changes in how employers approach the urgency of addressing mental health issues in their employees and this awareness has led to different responses to ensure the health and happiness of our workforce.
However, it’s important for us to note that with initiatives like four-day work weeks, in-house yoga or even mental health days more needs to be done to nurture our overall company culture particularly with Millennials and Gen-Zs joining the workforce who truly prioritize organizational culture change for workplace mental health.
While we are on the right path, we are still far from where we need to be. In several European countries around a quarter of the population suffers from at least one mental health condition. With the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a major prevalence of anxiety disorders which were exacerbated as almost every part of our daily lives was disrupted.
Lack of Health & Safety Policies
These policies are put in place to protect the well-being of all employees as well as employers. Employers must focus on understanding if their employees are working with hazardous materials or equipment, if there are unsanitary conditions and most importantly are employers listening to the concerns of their employees?
All these factors come together to create an environment of poor mental health, staff loss and lack of productivity.
Poor Communication & Support from Employers
A good manager-employee relationship is defined by kind and consistent communication. Poor communication practices have a negative impact on mental health as it increases stress within the workplace.
Read more for Tips on Better Communication with Remote Teams
Employees constantly feel they must be at peak performance at any point in time. The pressure that comes from this can have detrimental effects on their mental health and this unreasonable pressure leads to an increased workload, immense overtime and overall exhaustion.
Probably the most important factor since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The fear of not being able to pay bills, provide for our families, and take care of our kids is a major added stress that has a significant impact on mental health.
More and more major companies realize the importance of mental health in the workplace. They also understand the importance of having ongoing protocols established to address any mental health issues. Drawing inspiration from these organizations can potentially be the key in achieving much needed positive changes.
Richard Branson, a stranger to no one, has made mental health in the workplace a no nonsense issue. The Virgin CEO offers an interactive workshop called MindCoach providing strategies for stress management and ways to support colleagues in times of need.
Barclays launched their “This is Me” campaign which encourages their colleagues to share their personal stories allowing them to feel safe at a moment where they are at their most vulnerable. Following this, they provide whatever support and guidance are needed to drive their employees to where they feel they are most confident both professionally and personally.
Unilever focuses its efforts on in-person workshops that cater to mindfulness and training for managers and employees. With this, they have created a culture where their employees are not afraid or ashamed to express when they need help and this is even further encouraged as the company created an app providing health information and serves as an outlet for employees to voice any health concerns they might have.
A Shift in Company Culture
Mental health is a priority and should be treated as such. Leaders must provide accountability mechanisms where their employees have access to avenues where they feel their voices are being heard. Regular surveys and check-ins regulated by HR foster an environment of transparency and open communication.
We now live in a time where flexibility is key. Employers must provide sustainable ways of working for their employees. In addition to this, establishing clear boundaries that are respected like no emails or phone calls after a certain time emphasizes to employees that you care about their well-being also out of the office.
Read more on How to Successfully Transition to a Hybrid Work Model
Establishing a Deeper Connection
Having an environment that is as empathetic as it is authentic will allow your employees to feel excited and motivated to do their job. It is important that leaders have ongoing, informal conversations with their employees and make it clear that they care about them on a much deeper level.
In the last couple of years, we have seen a major societal shift and people’s priorities are changing. Companies must make it a priority to invest more in mental health as their employees are now expecting more. The time is now to curate new ways of working and it’s important that we are intentional about how we handle the future of workplace mental health.
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