Promoting Positive Mental Health in the Workplace
If there's one thing this pandemic has taught us, taking care of our mental health should always be a priority. Managers are responsible for supporting their team members, including creating a workplace environment that promotes positive mental health.
According to Statistics Canada questionnaire, 52% of the participants said their mental health had declined with physical distance measures. While 88% said they have experienced at least one symptom of anxiety – the most common one being "feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge."
Whether your employees are back to working in person or still working remotely, it's important to continue taking their mental health into account because the impacts of the pandemic aren't going away with it. There continues to be a stigma surrounding talking about mental health in the workplace; however, research shows that psychologically healthy employees tend to be more resilient, innovative, engaged, and satisfied at work. Putting in the work to make sure that your employees are happy and healthy will be key to your company's success.
Here are some ways to turn your work environment into a beneficial and effective space for the mental health of your employees.
1. Our brains need breaks from meetings
Our bodies and minds need to recharge regularly to function at their best. According to a recent study done by Microsoft, back-to-back meetings cause high levels of stress among employees, and this could be prevented by giving them breaks in between. Even if they're short, allowing your employees to take breaks between meetings rather than jumping from one to another creates a "reset" window. Instead of having the stress build-up, employees will return to a relaxed state when their next meeting rolls around.
Researchers also found that stress levels spiked during the transition period between meetings. Taking breaks will allow for a smoother transition process as employees have time to decompress.
In a company statement, Michael Bohan, senior director of Microsoft’s Human Factors Engineering group, who oversaw the project stated, “Our research shows breaks are important, not just to make us less exhausted by the end of the day, but to actually improve our ability to focus and engage while in those meetings.”
2. Connect with employees through regular check-ins
Although strides are being made to destigmatize mental health, it is still a prevalent issue in many workplaces. In a survey conducted by RBC, 75% of working Canadians said they would either be reluctant to admit or would not admit to their boss or co-worker that they are struggling with their mental health. It can often be challenging to notice when someone struggles if they don't speak up about it. Scheduling frequent check-ins with your employees shows that you care and that there aren't any negative consequences that come with admitting that they need help.
However, it's also important not to be too overbearing during these check-in sessions. Some employees may be more comfortable sharing with you than others. What truly matters is creating a space where your team members feel heard and know that they can come to you whenever they are ready to talk.
3. Let your employees know they are valued
A little can go a long way when it comes to employee recognition. According to a report from Statistics Canada, recognition and reward, and involvement play a significant factor in job satisfaction. Ask employees how they'd like to be appreciated and recognized. By creating a culture of recognition and appreciation in the workplace, employees know that their work is valued and that it makes a positive contribution to your company. Although it may be a simple task, even a personal note of thanks can significantly impact how employees feel.
Making your employees feel appreciated doesn’t have to be complicated or pricey. You can start by simply acknowledging the great work they are doing every day and celebrating the small wins.
4. Encourage work-life balance
You should be well aware that your employees have lives outside of work. By offering flexible work options, stress can be reduced, and burnout can be prevented in the workplace. It's important to be ahead of the game when it comes to your employees' mental well-being so that they can be assured that they are coming into a positive workplace where they feel valued and supported. More companies are beginning to offer employees more control over how, where, and when they want to work, which is proven to have improved work-life balance. Work isn't everything, but having a say in how you want to work comes with many advantages.
In addition, there is also a lot of research currently being done on 4-day workweeks. Studies have shown that productivity levels decrease as hours worked increase. If your company has the capacity, consider offering 4-day workweeks to your employees; if they can complete the same amount of work in fewer hours, this will allow them more time to spend with their loved ones and pursue their personal interests contributing to positive mental well-being.
For the first time, many companies and employers are beginning to recognize that mental health is no longer a taboo topic. It can be gratifying to support those struggling with mental health issues. Your company can stand out from the crowd and remain competitive by bringing these issues to light and destigmatizing mental health in the workplace.