Mental health in the workplace is an important factor to consider when identifying the sources of the nation’s widespread mental health issues. Studies have shown that the combination of long working hours, limited autonomy, and low wages are not only driving a U.S. labor shortage, but may actually be at the heart of our mental health crisis.
With the average person spending around 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime, it makes sense that your workplace environment makes a huge impact on your quality of life.
With this in mind, it seems obvious that business owners and leaders should absolutely make mental health a priority for employees. Mental health is something we should all care about. The question is not if – but how – leaders can provide mental health support and resources in the workplace.
The Benefits of Supporting Mental Health at Work
Many companies are learning that what the overall health of their business comes down to is the overall health of its people. And it’s clear, now more than ever before, that our general welfare is directly related to our mental health. While prioritizing employees’ mental wellness can cost time, money and energy, the price of failing employees by not caring for their mental wellness is much more harmful to the business as a whole.
On the other hand, the positive impact businesses will experience by developing policies and practices that support employees’ mental health include:
- Increased productivity rates
- Completion of higher-quality work
- Lower rates of absenteeism
- Happier, healthier employees
- Improved employee loyalty
- Improved employee engagement
Knowing how heavily mental health and wellness affects productivity and the economy, surely company leaders who promote mental wellness at work will see the benefits of implementing these programs fairly quickly. There are a number of notable ways companies can both prevent burnout and normalize mental health and wellness in the workplace:
- Create a healthy workplace: by outlining guidelines for health and safety, including prohibiting harassment and bullying, and providing support and rehabilitation for distress, burnout, substance abuse and other mental health concerns.
- Give employees options: by increasing options for when, where and how employees work. If flexibility is available, employees will have more control over their lives, which then increases personal satisfaction.
- Foster communication skills: by reducing stigma associated with mental health issues or concerns and encouraging open lines of communication, creating work environments where employees feel empowered and safe to share their own experiences.
- Provide training: by giving managers and supervisors the tools to recognize and respond to warning signs, and informing employees of available resources, such as weekly “recharge sessions”, where employees can take time to relax, meditate, stretch and practice deep breathing techniques.
- Give your employees opportunities to connect: socializing together or participating in company-wide volunteer opportunities can create deeper bonds and a renewed sense of happiness.
- Support your employees’ mental health: by allowing sick leave for reasons related to mental health, partnering with local mental health providers to offer free counseling on-site, incorporating support groups that allow employees to gather and discuss workplace mental health and more.