October 15, 2019
Creating a Workplace that Supports Mental Health and Well-Being
Continuous Improvement, HCM Technology
The World Health Organization estimates that depression and anxiety cost the global economy one trillion dollars per year in lost productivity. They cite the following workplace factors as risks to mental health:
- Inadequate health and safety policies
- Poor communication and management practices
- Limited participation in decision-making or low control over one’s area of work
- Low levels of support for employees
- Inflexible working hours
- Unclear tasks or organizational objectives
Thankfully, this list gives plenty of clues about what can be done to foster well-being within the workplace. Here, the HR and payroll professionals at Wise Consulting detail ways in which you can foster a positive work environment that supports mental health and well-being so you can stay proactive about productivity and employee satisfaction.
Top-down support for developing and implementing rock-solid health and safety policies should be a foundation of your workplace. Adopting an open-door policy for discussing mental health issues without fear of penalty or stigma highlights mental health as a company priority. Employees should know if they opt to disclose mental health issues, they are protected. Provide resources for employees who do not want to disclose their personal challenges directly to their employer. Online access to information via internal development and training channels can provide education on well-being and strategies for addressing issues impacted by mental illness. Making sure that employee benefits include online access to a hotline or resource for mental health counseling facilitates access to help for workers when things get tough.
Model Communication & Respect
When management provides clear, positive communication to their teams about objectives, tasks and organizational goals, there’s less guesswork and uncertainty for employees. Understanding what needs to be done to meet expectations alleviates the stress of not knowing how to achieve unclear goals as well as anxiety about job security. Managers who offer encouragement, recognition of achievement and interest in employee career development are taking an active role in supporting the mental health and well-being of their team.
Create an Atmosphere of Trust
Trusting that employees have the knowledge and commitment to manage their projects, clients and tasks well can be tough, especially when they are new on the job. But that is exactly what experts suggest attracts and retains happier, more productive employees. Micromanaging and suspicious supervision do not encourage the best performance in anyone. It can become a recipe for nudging valuable employees to seek work elsewhere. An article by Forbes Coaches Council outlines how micromanaging is one of the most damaging habits of an executive. It suggests that focusing on hiring the best talent with the right skill sets, keeping the lines of communication open and trusting employees to handle their responsibilities are some of the best ways to avoid setting a tone of fear that increasingly demoralizes employees. Companies that follow best practices in recruiting, onboarding, communicating and providing constructive reviews tend to experience more satisfied employees and less turnover.
Support Employee Satisfaction
Employees perform better when they know that their organization ranks their satisfaction as a core priority. Companies can make employees feel more supported by providing access to ongoing training and development, whether that is through an online forum for learning or through the allocation of resources toward tuition coverage for relevant courses or degrees. Instituting organization-wide wellness programs that incorporate inclusive exercise challenges in which workers can create teams and track progress encourages camaraderie, jovial competition and healthy habits that can be fruitful. Communicating through internal social media regarding celebrations and rewards around these programs can build strong workplace esteem. Promoting a comfortable work environment and fostering respect amongst all employees facilitates an environment in which people feel appreciated and contribute their best work.
Requiring rigid work hours, piling on responsibilities with no clear path to completing them, turning a blind eye to reasonable requests and critique and having zero tolerance for what employees are dealing with in their personal lives is a perfect storm that can lead to increased stress and poor employee retention. Employee mental health is not served when rigid workplace standards are put into effect, such as logging an unreasonable amount of hours or being accessible 24/7. Taking time to disconnect from work, pursue personal hobbies, spend time with family and friends or volunteer at a favorite charitable organization breeds personal fulfillment.
Making the decisions to prioritize quality sleep, healthy eating and exercise becomes easier when these habits are valued by the people we spend the most time with. Organizations that invest in encouraging self-care see lower rates of depression, stress and employee turnover. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness each year. Anyone can struggle with high stress and a decline in mental health regardless of whether a preexisting condition exists. Offering a benefits package that supports mental well-being through access to in-network mental health specialists, inclusive exercise initiatives, stress and time management courses, flexible work hours and remote work options shows employees that your company supports a healthy work-life balance. Companies that incorporate biometrics screenings in their benefits packages to evaluate employee health and provide coaching to pursue personal health goals enjoy the double-benefit of supporting workers while potentially lowering the cost of healthcare as employees adopt healthier habits.
Utilize your HCM System to Support Mental Health
Recruitment, benefits, onboarding, talent management, analytics, service delivery, time—nearly every component of a solid HCM system can be leveraged to support mental health and well-being in your workplace. To learn more about how you can use your HR and payroll systems to help maximize employee happiness, read this article in our blog. If parts of your HCM system are not optimized to support the policies, career development, communication, scheduling or tracking you need to foster a workplace that prioritizes employee satisfaction, reduce your stress by contacting the experts at Wise Consulting today!