Your team’s mental wellbeing can affect your workplace more than you think.
The hustle can cause occasional tension, and that happens even to the best of us. But when we experience anxiety, stress, and depression, we end up with shabby work, experience burnout, and announce more sick days.
In fact, Medibank pointed out that the average employee loses 3.2 days to work-related stress every year.
Inhumanely tight deadlines, phone calls from enraged customers, poor morale, and a hostile company culture is too much. Now add personal or family issues that could occur into the chaos.
If that isn’t a recipe for mental stress and anxiety, we don’t know what is.
Thankfully, businesses have the power to tackle this issue and help everyone win. It’s all about taking charge and helping improve everyone’s mental wellbeing — before the negative effects of stress impact the bottom line.
The Effects of a Happy and Mentally Sound Workforce
Employees spend most of their time at work — no wonder businesses have become responsible for many of the issues affecting their health.
From long commutes to nerve-racking projects, they may find that the stress from their work is also carried home. They’ll have trouble sleeping or eating properly, and eventually their enthusiasm for work will falter.
Medibank reports that employers lose $10.11 billion a year due to stress-related presenteeism and absenteeism.
That’s a big loss.
Now imagine a work environment without the stressors.
Managers won’t complain about absenteeism in their teams. Everyone becomes enthusiastically engaged with work, which would then lead to better work output. And your business will see better, higher productivity rates.
And over time, it’s these happy employees that will make for a stronger, healthier company culture. The business will have better overall employee morale and a dramatically lower staff turnover.
Your employees’ mental wellbeing could be your competitive advantage.
So when designing your organisation’s HR strategy, keep in mind your employee’s personal and evolving needs. Keeping a mentally healthy workforce means that you need to be proactive about taking care of their emotional needs as well as their career goals.
What Are the Factors that Contribute to Poor Mental Health?
Of course, not all factors that contribute to poor mental health are going to stem from the business. But many of them do.
1. A poorly designed or managed working environment. Most employees don’t leave a business or a job — they leave a manager. If an employee’s working environment is getting in the way of their productivity, they can quickly become stressed.
2. Tight deadlines or overwhelming workloads. Some employees may not feel they can reach out when they’re drowning in work or they may have more demanded of them than they can truly accomplish.
3. Unclear roles and responsibilities. If employees don’t have clear goals, they may worry that they are falling short of what is expected of them.
4. Long working hours. The longer an employee works, the less productive they tend to be. If your employees are working lengthy hours, it may be worth it to determine whether their work could be done faster with better resources available.
5. Mentally, physically, or emotionally demanding work. Some industries, by their very nature, are more demanding. In these situations, employers and managers must take even more care to ensure that their employees are well-cared for.
6. Poor safety standards. In jobs that have poor safety controls (or those that take place in hazardous or hostile environments), employees may feel constantly wary and stressed. Ultimately, this can lead to making harmful mistakes.
These aren’t all the issues that employees can encounter. Employees may have issues with childcare that employers can remedy by providing childcare within the offices. Employees may also have issues with their healthcare that employers could remedy by creating positive health initiatives.
Actionable Strategies to Increase Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace
Though stress and anxiety may originate in the workplace, a lot of times they are not treated within the workplace. Anxious employees may need someone to talk to, may need to get better sleep, or may need exercise more. How can businesses enforce these changes and improve upon their mental wellbeing?
To achieve better health management, HR managers and business owners need to be prepared to facilitate mental health improvements. They need to be open to employees coming to them to improve mental health without becoming invasive.
1. Identify patterns of mental health issues early. Absenteeism, staff turnover, and staff complaints can be the product of poor mental health issues and poor morale. On an individual level, employees who suddenly appear to be struggling with their work performance or have suddenly become isolated may be dealing with issues of stress and depression.
2. Normalise discussions about mental health. In employee meetings and seminars, talk openly about mental health. Make it clear that the mental health of employees is important and that the organisation will take action to help employees who are currently struggling.
3. Identify any problem areas within the workplace. Does the business often require employees to stay later than they should? Do managers repeatedly set deadlines that are seemingly impossible to meet? Cast a critical eye towards your workplace procedures to identify any clear stressors.
4. Create an educational program. Let employees learn about techniques to manage anxiety, stress, and mental health. Seminars and company-wide training can be a great way to impress upon them the importance of managing their mental health.
5. Ensure the safety of your working environment. Create safety protocols and procedures to protect physical health as well as mental health.
6. Implement stress-busting programs. Team-bonding programs, educational programs, and behavioural change programs can all be used to help employees deal with the anxiety and stress that they do have. Fitness-related programs will help mental health too as they will help employees feel better all-around.
7. Put your HR department and managers through training. Your HR department should be kept up-to-date on modern mental health strategies and should have processes in place that tell them what to do if they identify an employee as struggling.
Healthy Minds for a Healthier Business
Ultimately, businesses want to make sure that there are open, honest discussions about mental health and that employees who do feel that they are struggling can feel free to contact someone within the organisation. Mental health is best dealt with by proactively taking care of situations before they can get worse.
When employees aren’t healthy, the business isn’t healthy.
By taking necessary action to help improve the mental wellbeing of your employees, you will also be improving the health of the business and your company culture.
Of course, this is often easier said than done. To improve upon employee health, you need a complete strategy, including new business processes and programs. Contact Vitality Works today to find the focus areas that your organisation needs to work on and to start building a stronger, healthier company.