Creating a mental health friendly workplace
There are no two ways about it; COVID-19 has had a profound impact on mental health both in and out of the workplace. The uncertainty surrounding jobs and furlough, the added pressure of adapting to remote working, and the stress of managing work-life balance and the likely return to the office all have an impact of the mental wellbeing of your employees.
While it's true that we cannot control what goes on inside someone's head, we, as both leaders and employers, can have a profound impact on the mental health of those around us in our working environments. And the good news is, it isn't all that difficult either. A few carefully implemented strategies can create a mental health-friendly workplace that reaps the rewards on both personal and business levels.
Did you know that happy workers are 13% more productive? And, if better mental health support was implemented in the workplace, UK businesses could save as much as £8 billion every single year?
Plenty of food for thought. And here are ten ways to promote a culture of mental wellbeing inside your organisation.
#1 – Support & Praise
Being supportive and praising those around you are integral parts of a healthy and happy working environment. It's crucial for all team members – regardless of their role or level – to support and praise those around them.
#2 – Listen & Care
Sometimes the act of listening and showing that you can has a profound impact on how someone feels. If a colleague feels their problems, stresses, and concerns are being heard and actioned, it can help to improve morale and happiness within the workplace. However, if team members feel like they're not being listened to and no one genuinely cares, it can have the opposite effect.
#3 – Create a Mental Health Policy and Stick To It
Mental health is a challenging topic to deal with; therefore, it's a wise idea to draw up a Mental Health Policy (with input from all members of your team) and implement it into everyday working life. However, for it to be successful, everyone must commit to it.
#4 – Scheduled Relaxation
All work and no play makes everyone unhappy; therefore, it's essential to schedule in times where team members can take some time out to relax, take a step back, clear their mind, and not get bogged down.
#5 – Create an 'Open' Environment
Creating an environment where colleagues aren't afraid to air the opinions and talk about their feelings and problems is a fantastic way to understand how people are feeling and how you can solve any issues they have and move forward in a positive manner.
#6 – Lead by Example
Looking after our own mental health can be difficult; in fact, many of us don't really know what to do if we feel down, stressed, or if we're just not feeling 100%. Therefore, it's crucial to lead by example and demonstrate to those in your workplace how they can address and deal with mental health challenges.
#7 – Openness
We touched upon this above, but being open with everyone around you not only helps you, but it also helps others to feel they can be equally as open. When opinions and feelings are shared openly without fear, solutions to problems and strategies to deal with mental health issues are easier to find and implement.
#8 – Feedback
The work environment should be one big feedback loop. Not only does this help to find and solve problems, but it also makes everyone feel part of a team and that their opinions and thoughts are valued, which, in turn, can have a positive effect on mental health and workplace performance.
#9 – Be Aware
When talking to colleagues, think about what you say and how you say it. Educate yourself on mental health terminology and try to put yourself in other's shoes to understand the impact of your words and actions.
#10 – Coping Skills
A productive workplace is one that copes with pressure, stress, and anxiety effectively; therefore, providing colleagues with the skills to deal with negative feelings in the workplace is one way to not only make them feel better but also improve productivity.
Lee Chambers is a psychologist, accredited coach and founder of Essentialise Workplace Wellbeing.