“Not only is the promotion of good mental health characteristic of a good employer, it can also have long-term benefits for an organisation”, says Simon Bell, founder and Director of Careermap.
With mental health issues affecting more than one in four people at some point in their lives, employers must take steps to prioritise the wellbeing of their workforce. By doing so, you’ll see reduced absenteeism and a more cohesive team spirit.
The aftermath of the pandemic has still seen significant numbers of employees continuing to work from home. Raising the question: ‘What can I do without a physical office?’. Despite this, there are still a number of key ways that you as employers can do this virtually and in-person.
How you can boost your employee’s mental health this year:
1. Create a supportive and open environment
Employers can do their bit to create a supportive environment that promotes mental health. Establishing a culture of open communication is key, where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health concerns without fear of stigma or discrimination. Strong communication is absolutely essential to creating a harmonious office. If your employees feel they can come to you with their concerns, you usually know you’re doing the right thing!
Employers can also provide training to managers and supervisors to recognise and support employees with mental health issues. Charities like Mind offer a range of eLearning courses for managers and employees, as well as virtual courses. They can even come into the workplace for in-person training!
2. Encourage a healthy work-life balance
A healthy work-life balance can help reduce stress levels and promote mental well-being. Employers can encourage this by offering flexible work arrangements like remote working, flexible hours, and job sharing.
You can also promote healthy habits by providing wellness programmes such as gym memberships, yoga classes, and counselling services. This can also lead to a stronger culture and help to increase employee retention, leading to reduced long-term costs.
3. Address causes of workplace stress
Employers can take steps to address workplace stressors that can have a negative impact on mental health. These stressors can include heavy workloads, tight deadlines, and conflicting priorities.
While dealing with these kinds of pressures is normal, employers can mitigate these stressors by providing training and resources on time management, workload prioritisation, and work delegation. Having regular catch ups with employees also gives them a chance to address any potential issues, which is facilitated by creating an open environment.
4. Provide employees with accessible resources
Employers can provide mental health resources to support employees with mental health issues. These resources can include an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), which offers counselling, support, and referral services for employees and their families. They can also provide access to mental health professionals and offer mental health days to employees who need time off to focus on their mental health.
There are also multiple mental health events taking place throughout the year, such as Mental Health Awareness Week taking place 15th-21st May this year. Taking part in awareness events like these can encourage openness in the workplace and promote a greater awareness of issues that affect all of us like anxiety and depression
5. Promote diversity and inclusion
Employers can promote workforce diversity and inclusion to support mental health. A diverse and inclusive workplace can provide a sense of belonging and support for employees who may feel isolated or marginalised. It can also help to prevent employees feeling neglected in the workplace, either personally or professionally.
Employers can also look to create a welcoming environment by offering regular training on cultural sensitivity, anti-discrimination policies, and inclusive communication. Ensuring employees are not discriminated against and are treated with respect is part of your responsibility as an employer. However, it also creates workplace harmony and leads to a greater number of different voices being heard.
6. Encourage in-person meetups
Most of us do enjoy the benefits of flexible working, such as working from home. In my experience as Director of Careermap, encouraging employees to come into some sense of a shared office is good for creating a strong team. It can prevent employees from feeling isolated, as much as we all love a virtual call in our pyjamas, it isn’t always a substitute for sharing an office space with others.
If you’re a small business you might not always have a permanent office space. Don’t worry! There are lots of office spaces around now that you can rent and use on an as-needed basis.
7. Reward employees for their achievements
Having a strong employee benefits programme is an excellent way to reward employees for their hard work. There are multiple programmes that businesses can utilise to attract and retain employees. Going above and beyond legally required benefits like pension is a great step towards improving employee mental health.
Even allowing your employees to finish early can be a great way to boost morale and let them know that their hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed is a simple and powerful way to let employees know they’re valued. That isn’t an automatic fix to improve mental health in the office, but it’s certainly a start.