Guest Blog, Samantha Glass of Thrive
Many employees can feel as if they will be judged or discriminated against if they open up about a mental health condition. This can stop them from getting help when they need it the most. For this reason it is important to fight the stigma regarding mental health in the workplace. One in three employees has suffered or is currently suffering from diagnosed mental health condition, yet most of them are unwilling to speak openly about what they are going through. They may don’t want their employer to look at them as weak and as if they aren’t capable to do their job properly. By being open and supportive about mental health in organisations – less people will be worried to come forward and ask for the support they may need.
Forty five percent of employees who responded to a workplace mental health study admitted that they have considered leaving their job due to stress. This statistic alone makes it vital that organisations and employers are able to create and maintain a working environment where stress is at a minimum. Mental health not only impacts your employees’ health and happiness, but also affects their productivity and effectiveness at work as a whole. Focusing on this issue is good for both employees, companies and society at large.
Here are a few ways you can support/improve your employee’s mental well-being:
Creating the conversation around mental health:
One of the key ways to support and improve employee mental health is to normalise it. By creating conversation, showing constant support and engaging in just simple things – such as asking your employees how they are doing, or talking openly about whatever issues you might have experienced, makes mental health seem like a normal concern. Talk about the resources, talk about the support and express that you and the company are genuinely concerned about the wellbeing of every individual. Make it clear that employees who come forward with mental health conditions will not face penalties or consequences, just as they would not if they had diabetes or the flu. Make sure you are able to back up what you say with clear policies about how to support people and how to prevent stress. This might be from access to counselling, to providing digital interventions to prevent these conditions and to make it easy for them to seek help confidentially.
Biophilic design may sound complex and expensive, but it’s just involving natural elements in your office or workplace, such as plants or having windows that open to let in natural light. Biophilic design has been closely linked to good mental health and well being showing an increase in concentration and productivity while also resulting in a decrease in stress at work. According to ‘Oliver Heath design’, when used in an office environment, productivity is increased by up to 8% while well-being increases by 13%. In terms of educational environments, rates of learning can increase up to 25% if there are natural aspects involved in the design of the learning environment. Biophilic design is not only beneficial for mental health, but also for physical health.
Having and maintaining a work/life balance is important for both employee well being and productivity. Poor work/life balance can lead to burnout. Concentration will suffer as will productivity. More employees will be taking days from work because they are emotionally and physically drained. There are a few ways you can improve your employees work/life balance, such as setting realistic targets, being flexible, helping them prioritise correctly, encouraging them to relax when they are at home and not expecting work to be done in their own time. You could even invest in a work/life balance training course or seminar. Lead by example, if you are stressed with your workload, it’s more than likely that your employees are too! Don’t work any longer than you need to.
If your company doesn’t have a ‘employee assistance programme’ you should look into it. An EAP offers services to help your employees deal with personal problems. EAPs can help reduce your health care and disability claims, increase your productivity and morale, and lower absenteeism. They can cover numerous things however the most common issues they help with include alcohol or substance abuse, smoking cessation, divorce/marital problems, stress management, child care, eating disorders, psychological or psychiatric problems, financial problems and legal problems. This is a great way to let your employees know that there is additional support there.
By supporting your employees you are also supporting your organisation.