What is workplace mental health?
Workplace mental health is a simple as physical health. Productivity in the workplace is just as much a mental activity as it is a physical activity. When workers are dealing with problems such as anxiety, depression, and more, they tend to be less productive, and the company could suffer as a result.
Mental health at workplace is a set of steps that can be taken to ensure that people are able to coexist in a workplace and be their best, most productive selves without adversely affecting their emotions or mental state.
How can you improve the mental health of employees in your workplace?
Let trust be a working foundation
Challenges such as substance abuse and mental health are really difficult for people to talk about, especially when these people have the challenges to deal with.
As an employer, it’s important to create a certain level of trust between the company management and the employees, which will make anyone feel comfortable with communicating their challenges and concerns to others; it could be a fellow employee, or it could be a supervisor.
At the end of the day, people would feel at ease with discussing their challenges, and the company should help create a roadmap to help them overcome them.
Take out stigma
Teams that are overly focused on performance could end up isolating embers that are feeling anxious or depressed. However, as an employer, you will need to find a way to make mental health issues less stigmatizing.
Openly speaking about all of these issues can be a great way to start, as it helps staff to feel comfortable with voicing their needs and concerns
A lot of companies these days provide well-being and health benefits to employees in a bid to encourage healthy activities and lifestyles. They provide incentives for exercising, leisure, and much more. In the same manner, mental health should be prioritized as well. Employers should ensure that employees are mentally fit, and they should promote proper, healthy habits that will help their workers improve on both their mental and physical health.
Provide on-site training
Several training programs provide a great way of providing the right information and effective techniques on how to speak to and provide support to a colleague who needs help, thus helping your company to produce a strong and resilient workforce.
Why is mental health important at work?
To understand the significance of mental health in the workplace, here are some important mental health at the workplace statistics
The World Health Organization estimates that anxiety and depression cost the global economy about $1 trillion annually in terms of lost productivity
The Organization also found that an investment in mental health is a worthwhile one. As it discovered, putting $1 into treatment for common mental disorders can provide a ROI of $4 in terms of increased productivity and enhanced health
Mindfulness and meditation programs aimed at reducing stress have been found to be increasing in popularity, as up to 53% of employees are looking into making more investments in that area
In a report by Capita, the following were discovered:
- Up to 79% of workers have experienced several cases of stress within the past year
- 22% of workers experience stress more often than not (or all of the time)
- 47% of workers now see it as being normal to feel anxious and stressed at work
- 45% of workers have considered looking for a new career path because they found themselves in a severely stressful one
- 53% have known a few colleagues who were forced to quit their jobs due to immense stress
- 49% don’t believe that their direct superiors will know what to do about dealing with mental health issues in the workplace.
If these mental health in the workplace statistics show anything, it’s that companies will need to do their best to their best to support their workers who are dealing with mental health issues in the workplace
How does mental illness affect the work performance of your employees?
Understanding this will require a look into the main causes of mental health issues in the workplace
Demands are perhaps the most significant contributing factor to stress in the workplace. Demands could be due to the workload, the work pattern on a specific long-term project, or even the work environment.
Simply put, the following could be easy triggers of stress:
- Unrealistic expectations and short deadlines
- Constant exposure to technology without a break or “de-steaming” period
- A lack of sufficient staff to handle a project
- Overly long working hours, especially without any accompanying additional benefits to help soften the blow
All in all, employees are able to feel that the demands of their jobs are getting too much, and in due time, it could lead to anxiety and stress.
A lack of work control
In this case, employees are unable to dictate the terms under which they do their work. Most companies provide easy compromises, especially when making some unusual demands of their employees. However, when they’re unable to influence their work process, things become less free for them.
Some of the most significant aspects of a lack of control include:
- Little to no control over various aspects of a project
- Limited involvement in major decision-making processes
- Inadequate account taken to suggestions from staff and workers.
- No influence on targets and objectives
Employees are required to have a little bit of control over the pace at which they work, as well as the requirements of the company as related to a project being conducted. When they’re left to keep working at the whims of upper management, they begin to feel like slaves who have no say in how they make a living.
Support from the company is also an important aspect of keeping employees happy and free of stress. When they’re left to fend for themselves without knowing that they have proper support from their colleagues and the company management, their anxiety about the job grows, and they’re limited in how they express themselves or approach their job.
Limited support also stifles innovation, as workers are left to continue working on repetitive tasks without an incentive to think outside the box and bring up new ideas for the company to adopt; apart from the mental effect that this has on the workers, it could also be detrimental for the company as well. Ideas could come from anywhere, and shutting employees’ ability to express themselves the right way never helps anyone.
Stress in the workplace could also be caused by a lack of understanding of an employee’s role at the company. Coupled with inadequate training, role ambiguity could lead to conflicting responsibilities, as well as an inability to easily combine multiple facets of a position.
Role conflict and ambiguity will go on to affect workers’ performance, thus increasing their ability to leave the company much earlier than they should.
This is why it’s important that all roles are properly defined, and any associated information should be made available to employees in good time. Understanding the scope of their job is a great way for workers to excel at it, and systems should be put in place to ensure that employees are able to raise any concerns that they have. Much more than that, policies should be put in place to ensure that these concerns are addressed and in good time.
Issues with work-life balance
Everyone has a life beyond the work that they do. Some have spouses and children, while those who are single at least have friends and loved ones that they share their lives with.
Much more than the fact that these acquaintances and family provide employees with an opportunity to grow, they are also there to help them with hard times. However, relationships require maintenance, and there’s an implied commitment that people enter into when they start a new relationship- whether romantic or platonic.
Up until now, the issue of balancing work and life is a hot-button one, and it’s yet to be solved for several reasons. As the global work culture becomes more demanding, the increased pressure is beginning to tip the balance, and people are now having it more difficult to spend time with their family members and those who they love.
Mental health and productivity in the workplace are related in more ways than one, and there is a significant potential for the demands of work and home to spill over to each other, thus putting a strain in peoples’ relationships and work productivity. The most critical of these triggers include:
- Long hours at work
- Inflexible work schedules that become too demanding
- Excessive travel time
All of these have a high potential for interfering with personal and home time, and the problem is that as relationships get more affected, people begin to get distracted at work. Relationships are a critical part of life, and when a person loses an important relationship, they become unable to function as they should at work- especially if work is the reason why they were unable to fulfil their commitments.
Poor work relationships
We’re all human, and if social sciences have taught us anything, it’s that it isn’t possible to get along with everyone. While this is fine, it becomes problematic when varying personalities clash and blow up to become conflicts at the workplace.
They might not be such a common cause of mental health at workplace issues, but poor relationships with co-workers can be rather perplexing. It impedes the ability of a worker to be free and creative on their own, and it reduces their productivity a great deal as well.
Why should you not fire an employee for having mental health issues?
Apart from the fact that it could lead you in some legal troubles, it is important for you to provide adequate support to employees who are dealing with mental health issues in the workplace.
A lot of people tend to be their most productive when they feel mentally fit. When you fire someone who has a breakdown or is suffering from a challenge, you’re essentially painting yourself to be an employer who doesn’t care much about the plight of his workers. In the long run, workers feel less comfortable in the workplace, and are more pressured into producing results. It’s a vicious cycle, which could lead to both emotional and physical harm to the employees.
Mental health at workplace issues can affect anybody. As an employer, you should also remember that mental health and productivity in the workplace are related, and your employees are the engine of your operation. If they feel uncomfortable because they know that they could be fired for facing mental health challenges, they will be unable to give their maximum effort to ensuring the success of the firm.
How should you encourage your employees to speak about their mental health?
The first thing you need to do as an employer is to build trust with your employees. Workers are only able to speak about their mental health challenges when they trust that they can be heard without any judgment, stigma, or some other repercussion.
You could also adopt the anonymity rule. Provide a platform for people to voice complaints anonymously, thus ensuring that people can speak and get their problems addressed without anyone else knowing what could be going on.
Improving conversations is another way to get this done. Provide a forum where people can speak about mental health at workplace issues that they face, and allow them to proffer solutions to some of their common solutions. However, you will also need to show a commitment to solving these problems.
Employers should also show empathy to the plight of their employees. The devotion to ensuing their mental well-being has several far-reaching effects, including the ability to encourage other workers to share their problems as well. Managers should form stronger bonds with their employees, so they can see when these people are weighed down by one issue or the other.