It is for a fact that we are living in uncertain times perhaps, we also know that uncertainty breeds anxiety.
The mental health of an employee includes their way of thinking, feelings and actions which also includes their emotional and social well-being.
The mental health of an employee depends on factors like stress, workload and work-life balance which makes it possible for an employee to go through a period of poor mental health and not be diagnosed with any mental illness.
Is mental health important?
It is possible for employees, especially the managers, to spread their psychological, emotional, and social and behavioral patterns to their colleagues as mental health in the workplace has proven to be contagious and this is because originally, humans quickly adapt to one another’s emotional or psychological state.
Fortunately, this can also work positively on the employee, when an organization strives to cultivate a good culture thereby making it possible for employees to catch on to a good emotional state and that is why it is important to help employees with their mental health as it is critical to the growth, level of productivity and innovation of your organization.
How can you help improve mental health?
As much as the benefits of helping employees with their mental health cannot be underestimated, you might still not know how to go about it.
I’ll share six steps to helping your employees with their mental health.
- Understand the effects of mental health on your employees.
It is important for a company to understand and recognize the emotional distress and how to handle it in a supportive rather than punitive manner though, this cannot happen unless they are trained.
One of the most effective methods of understanding and assessing your employees mental health is to adapt the use of questionnaires to measure how their health and stress rate (physical and emotional) affects their productivity.
- Promote mental health awareness through mental health resources
Your employees shouldn’t feel ashamed when it comes to talking about their mental health status but that can only happen when you develop a culture that is mental health supportive, promotes awareness and destigmatizes mental health or illness.
You should provide them with resources like monthly/weekly newsletters to help educate them on the importance of being mentally fit and remind them that the organization will always help them if at all they are struggling with their mental health.
Here are few methods of promoting awareness:
- Offering and promoting an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) in your organization.
- Setting up a platform where your employees can anonymously express themselves whenever they are struggling and need help.
- Encouraging a social support system where employees can be supported when they need help either by the management or their co-worker
- Address Workplace stress and offer flexibility.
Addressing your workplace stress as an employer is not just about helping them manage stress, It is about helping them reduce stress as much as possible. Maybe you don’t know or are yet to understand how workplace flexibility can affect your employees mental well-being and either increase or decrease their level of productivity.
Introducing benefits like Paid leave or Paid time off policies, flextime in between the month or after every quarter helps to increase their level of satisfaction with the job, improve their mental wellness and work-life balance thereby increasing productivity in the organization.
- Include mental health coverage in your benefit offerings.
Are your organizational benefits covering mental health services for your employee? It is essential to review your organizational benefits and include mental health service if at all it hasn’t been added so as to create a culture that supports the mental well-being of your employees.
Consider offering simple bonuses like discount programs where your employees can get free or low cost acupuncture, stress-relieving massage, e.t.c or financial assistance as financial stress could lead to a poor mental health.
- Provide your manager(s) with adequate training.
Mental health issues are sensitive issues and should be handled with utmost care. One of the reasons why mental health support is yet to become a fully practiced culture in most organizations especially in countries like Nigeria is because of the stigma surrounding it. People still pretend there’s nothing like mental health (An Old School Fallacy) and that’s why you need to train your managers to handle difficult situations or discussions with employees, to recognize and tackle emotional distress, workplace bullying, excessive workload and fatigue among employees, confidently speak about mental health to employees and make them feel relaxed and free about it.
- Promote well being as part of your organization’s culture.
Encouraging and reminding your employees of the importance of their mental wellness and how much the company is interested in their mental wellness is one of the most important ways to support an employee’s mental well-being.
Other ways to promote the well-being of your employees in your organization are…
- Offering as much flexibility as possible in their work schedules.
- Don’t limit their vacation time, instead you can increase it if possible or encourage them to make the best out of their vacation.
- Introduce yoga sessions in between work hours if possible or provide them with courses that will help them improve their mental well-being.
- Always remind them that you value their well-being as much as you do value their productivity.
According to Jerome Schultz, “Employees are more vulnerable to the negative impact of stress inside and outside of the workplace if they have not built strong positive relationships at work…”
It is important for organizations to contribute in making their work as flexible, interesting, sociable and fun as possible and also make sure that employees don’t work in isolation.
Finally, ensure to grant your employees the opportunities to build a strong and positive relationship with each other through social gatherings, affinity groups and so on.
Remember, Positive workplace relationships provide a level of support that’s hard for anything to replace.