Mental health is just as important as physical health, and organisations must begin to treat it as such. Employers can create a more inclusive and productive work environment by fostering a workplace culture that both values and respects mental health and provides support for employees.
Mental Health Awareness Week takes place annually in several countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. The goal of this week-long campaign is to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. From the 15th to the 21st of May, Mental Health Awareness Week will host a variety of activities and events designed to encourage people to talk about mental health and promote mental well-being, with ‘Anxiety’ being this year’s theme.
Why Is Workplace Mental Health Important?
Investing in employee mental health is not only the right thing to do, but it is also the smart thing to do for the business’s bottom line. Addressing mental health issues in the workplace can increase productivity, improve attendance at work, help with decision-making, and foster a more positive workplace culture. While there are many selfless reasons for businesses to promote employee well-being, productivity is an excellent incentive to pay attention to Mental Health Awareness Week.
Productivity and mental health are inextricably linked. Poor mental health, most commonly manifested as depression, anxiety, or burnout, can significantly reduce motivation and production while increasing stress. According to a Deloitte report, organisations that prioritise mental health and well-being are twice as likely to report better financial performance than those that do not.
Furthermore, by taking part in the awareness week, businesses can help to raise awareness of mental health issues and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. This can aid in the development of a more supportive and inclusive workplace culture, which benefits both employees and the company. It gives businesses a platform to promote mental health and encourages employees to take care of their mental health. This can include providing resources and support, such as counselling or mindfulness training, as well as encouraging healthy habits such as exercise and self-care.
In response to a McKinsey survey, 91% of employees believe their employers should care about their emotional health, and 85% believe behavioural health benefits are important when considering a new job. In fact, when asked to rank the benefits of a new job offer, respondents ranked on-demand mental health support second only to corporate wellness initiatives. These statistics suggest that companies that prioritise mental health awareness can improve their EVP (Employee Value Proposition) and employer brand, as well as attract and retain top talent.
With this in mind, At Agilitas, we recently held an employee wellbeing workshop called ‘Discovering Me’ which focused on mindset growth and imposter syndrome. In May, our well-being workshop will focus on ‘Finding my Limit’ to support our employees to better understand and manage feelings of stress and anxiety. We have found that creating a supportive workplace culture that promotes well-being, means businesses can differentiate themselves from their competitors and create a positive reputation as an employer that cares about employee well-being. We’re also encouraging our employees to get outdoors this month and to join in with ‘Walk this May’ as part of National Walking Month.
How to Support Employee Well-Being at Work and at Home
Hybrid work is not a passing fad – it is the way of the future. The pandemic has accelerated remote work adoption and demonstrated that it can be just as effective, if not more so, than traditional office-based work. According to a 2023 report by the Office for National Statistics, 40% of working adults have worked from home at some point in the past seven days.
As it combines the flexibility and autonomy of remote work with the collaboration and socialisation of in-person work, hybrid work has become the norm. It enables businesses to attract and retain top talent while improving employee well-being and productivity. Supporting employee well-being is essential for creating a positive work environment. Here are some ways to support employee well-being both at work and at home:
Encourage work-life balance: Companies can assist employees in prioritising their personal lives by providing flexible schedules, encouraging breaks, and respecting personal time. Encouraging employees to take vacation time and avoid sending work-related emails after hours can reduce burnout and anxiety. A 2021 survey found that 39% of employees consider work-life balance to be their biggest challenge in the workplace.
Provide resources for mental health: Employers should provide resources such as employee assistance programmes, mental health counselling, and support groups to their employees. Providing mental health awareness training and education, as well as making mental health issues a priority, is critical, especially since 70% of employees reported that the COVID-19 pandemic was the most stressful time in their career, with mental health concerns playing a significant role.
Promote physical health: Employees can be encouraged to prioritise their physical health by providing resources such as gym memberships, healthy snacks, and ergonomic equipment. To encourage healthy habits, they can consider hosting wellness challenges and fitness events, as physical health issues significantly increase the likelihood of developing mental health challenges.
Foster positive relationships: Creating a supportive and inclusive work environment through team-building activities, open communication, and promptly addressing any issues or conflicts can help build an engaged workforce while establishing a strong employer brand. According to Gallup’s employee engagement report, companies with employees who are highly engaged are 21% more profitable.
Support career development: Companies that offer opportunities for career development and training, as well as encourage employees to pursue their passions and interests, can foster a nurturing environment in which employees can thrive. As 41% of employees consider their organisation’s career advancement opportunities to be a very important factor in their job satisfaction, providing mentorship and coaching to help employees achieve their career goals is crucial.
Creating A Culture Of Communication
An organisation’s culture is defined by its ideologies, principles, rules, and policies. The ways in which employees interact with one another and with others outside the organisation contribute to the workplace culture. The organisation’s culture gives a brand its identity and distinguishes it from competitors. Communication and relationships are critical components of a healthy organisational culture. For a better understanding of work and stronger interpersonal bonds, a positive workplace culture necessitates effective communication and transparency.
Leaders and managers should set a good example of open communication by actively listening, providing feedback, and being honest with their teams. Furthermore, they should encourage employees to share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns by establishing feedback mechanisms. Organisations can foster trust and transparency by sharing information about company goals, strategies, and decisions with employees.
Encouraging collaboration and teamwork by forming cross-functional teams, promoting knowledge-sharing, and recognising and rewarding team accomplishments, are valuable tools to promote communication. Moreover, providing employees with the training and resources they need to improve their communication skills, such as conflict resolution, active listening, and effective feedback, can go a long way towards fostering a communication culture. Another option is to employ tools such as instant messaging, video conferencing, and project management software to improve team communication and collaboration.
Effective communication is also essential in promoting workplace mental health and well-being. A communication culture that encourages employees to express their feelings, concerns, and challenges can help reduce stigma and raise awareness of mental health issues. Employees are more likely to seek help and support when they feel comfortable discussing their health. Mental Health Awareness Week provides an opportunity for businesses to focus on developing a workplace culture that prioritises mental health and well-being. Businesses can help reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues by encouraging open communication and encouraging employees to share their experiences.
Bev Markland is Chief People Officer at Agilitas, the leading global channel services provider. She has over 20 years of experience in senior HR management roles, with extensive knowledge of operating at both strategic and operational levels to support companies, particularly during times of high growth. At Agilitas, Bev is responsible for all aspects of HR, with a particular emphasis on continuing to champion recruitment, retention, engagement, motivation and development, in order to secure future success.