Let’s be honest: life is hard. Work can be hard. Many of us have stressors that impact our daily lives and that we sometimes bring to the workplace. Other times we chose to quietly keep these stresses to ourselves. But is this really the best solution to the problem?
Millions of people are affected by mental illness each year in the US. The ongoing effects of the pandemic have elevated negative emotions in employees’ lives, including stress, anxiety, uncertainty, fatigue, even grief. This has an impact on our workplaces since we often spend several more waking hours with our “work family” than with our core family. That’s why it’s important to understand how mental health affects a workplace and how business leaders can take care of their squad to the best of their abilities by advocating for positivity to the work environment.
As a life-long learner, I’ve always tried to surround myself with people smarter than me to help my professional and personal growth. For more than ten years, I’ve devoted myself to a CEO Roundtable that meets monthly to address business concerns from every possible angle, whether financial, legal, or management-related. This intimate group of owners recently dedicated a full-day discussion, including an outside speaker, to the topic of mental health in the workplace and implementing positivity for success. The advice and dialogue shared during our time together brought awareness to what every business owner should apply to their workplace environment in order to help increase mental health awareness and identify resources for outside professional support without the stigma that surrounds the topic.
According to NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness), one in five adults will experience mental illness in their lives. However, sadly, only one in three will actually get the help that they need.
Oracle provided a report stating that 76% of employees believe their company should be doing more to support the mental health of their workforce. While this sounds like a simple fix, many organizations don’t have the time or resources to focus on the topic of mental health, let alone know how or where to start.
An important part of a healthy culture is having a group that encourages one another and has each other’s back in times of need. Feeling a sense of belonging and connection with one another builds trust.
Here are some quick ways for managers and team leaders to support mental health in the workplace:
- Take note of overtime hours worked. To-do lists never go away, so cramming more hours into a workday on a long-term basis can lead to burnout. We’re all dedicated to getting the job done, but pacing ourselves is better than burning the midnight oil. Be watchful when a highly engaged employee begins to display signs of burnout.
- Make time for fun and laughs. At Vive, we create opportunities for the team to build connections with one another through several culture activities every month intended to boost smiles and showcase our personalities. Stepping aside from the grind for a few moments not only refreshes us but keeps us grounded to who we are as human beings.
- Promote well-being. Incorporate as much flexibility as possible into employees’ schedules. Make sure they use all their PTO by discouraging roll-overs of unused days to be applied the following year.
- Provide employee care. More and more group healthcare plans are including benefit coverage for mental health services, so make sure employees are aware of these external resources. In an effort to dissolve the stigma associated with mental health, make the language commonplace by mentioning emotional well-being. This will help build an inclusive culture and permit teammates to bring their best selves to work!
- Know the signs of depression. Although symptoms vary from person to person, be sure to look for changes in employees’ work habits, overall demeanor, increased absences, sudden emotional outbursts, or social withdrawal. Providing resources to employees who may be dealing with depression can potentially save companies thousands of dollars annually per employee. Taking care of your teammates is well worth it, not just from a cost perspective, but from a morale perspective as well. Keeping them healthy and happy leads the way to a productive and positive work environment.
We all know life isn’t always easy. The unique challenges each of us face gives leaders a change to manage obstacles and appreciate the good in our employees. While addressing stress and burnout are important, flipping our perspectives and attitudes to promoting well-being and positivity can bring teams closer together. Bring awareness and actively engage in mindfulness activities to demonstrate you care. This should result in a more enjoyable work environment, better performance, and overall greater success.