Though not everyone may recognize this, the professionalism, skills, and knowledge of employees, aren’t the only things that matter for your company’s success. A no smaller role is played by their mental health and well-being. The wellness component can significantly affect one’s motivation and productivity in the workplace. Thus, as an employer, your goal is to be able to recognize mental health challenges timely and find effective ways for supporting people in your team.
Integrating wiser mental health policies and assisting your employees on a regular basis can reduce absenteeism, strengthen your work culture, and ensure the mental well-being of everyone in your team. As a result, your company can ensure increased productivity and attain goals faster and easier. Read on to learn why it matters so much and how you can also promote mental health of your employees!
Mental Health in the Workplace 2022
According to recent figures, the problem with personal and workplace mental health is growing bigger. In the US alone, one in five adults reports experiencing some sort of mental illness. At the same time, only one in three receives adequate support when they need it.
Trying to cope with their mental health issues alone, most modern employees will either fall into presenteeism or absenteeism. The term “presenteeism” is used to describe people who remain physically present in the workplace but demonstrate ongoing lost productivity due to poor mental health. Absenteeism, on the contrary, describes people who tend to miss work while struggling with their own mental health.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), all kinds of mental health issues in the workplace environment can have a devastating effect on business. Research shows that the global economy loses approximately $1 trillion every year due to lost productivity as a result of employee mental health issues. At the same time, research shows that every $1 spent on mental health training in the workplace can bring companies $4 instead in productivity.Therefore, whether your employees underperform or miss work, this is a clear sign that you must integrate mental health services, programs, and other types of support to keep your workers happy, healthy, and productive and to drive better outcomes for your company. That’s what successful leaders do. So read on and let’s figure out what you can do in order to support employee mental health.
How Does Employee Mental Health Affect Work?
When not receiving adequate support, employees who suffer from mental illness can encounter a variety of challenges in their everyday lives and in the workplace as well. Their conditions can significantly affect their job performance. As a result, this hampers the overall workflow of the company.
Here are some of the main ways in which every worker’s mental health condition can affect the work in your company:
First and foremost, employee wellness affects the workers’ presence in the workplace. As was mentioned earlier, people who are struggling with mental illness tend to skip work. This is especially true when the main source of their distress is linked to workplace stress. In this case, a person unconsciously connects the work environment to stress, anxiety, and other emotional wellness issues and their presence can reduce significantly.
The lack of employee wellness can also have a negative impact on employees’ productivity. Studies provided by the American Psychiatric Association suggest that people who struggle with mental illness and don’t receive adequate support can experience a 35% drop in productivity. These people tend to start procrastinating and often feel absolutely unmotivated to get their work done.
3. Work Environment and Collaboration
There is no secret that people who struggle with mental health challenges face issues in all spheres, including their social life. In most cases, people who lack mental wellness find it hard to socialize with people around them. Eventually, these people become simply unable to contribute meaningfully to a collaborative society. Thus, in the workplace, they can’t communicate and collaborate effectively with their co-workers, which hampers the overall atmosphere inside a company.
4. Job Satisfaction
The next negative impact of mental health issues in the workplace is a poor level of job satisfaction. Numerous studies confirm the close relationship between employee wellness and physical health and job satisfaction. Workers with poor mental health conditions or inadequate work-life balance often feel bad about their jobs and find them unsatisfactory.
5. Retention Rate
As a result of a poor work-life balance, job satisfaction, and overall bad well-being, many workers tend to blame everything on their jobs and organizational leaders. As a result, they often start looking for new jobs, so the company’s employee retention rate drops. Eventually, businesses that face this issue face significant staffing issues and have to waste additional time and other resources to find and onboard new team members to replace the ones who left.
How to Spot Mental Health Issues at Work?
Now you know how NOT supporting employee mental health can affect the work and performance of your entire company. Knowing this, you might be wondering how you can spot if someone is struggling with mental health challenges on your team in the first place.
Here are a few key red flags that indicate that you should start taking care of your team’s workplace mental health:
Uncharacteristic behaviors - First and foremost, people who start struggling with mental health at work will typically demonstrate certain changes in their behaviors. Workers who used to be proactive and highly social might get quiet and distant. On the contrary, those who tended to stay aside during social activities might demonstrate more participation. Any deviations from typical behavior can indicate the need for mental health support.
Decreased engagement - Despite personality type, every worker strives to perform well at work and, thus, wants to engage in the process as much as possible. If you notice a sudden decrease in engagement, this might be another red flag to recognize that a particular employee needs to improve mental health.
Drop in productivity - As was already mentioned earlier, a lack of well-being almost always leads to decreased productivity. Therefore, in order to spot mental issues in your workers, it’s crucial that you carefully track your employees’ daily performance and productivity. If you notice a drop in their performance, it can be a sign of emotional distress.
Changes in eating or sleeping behaviors - These signals of poor employee mental health are somewhat hard to spot. After all, both eating and sleeping behaviors cannot be demonstrated to the fullest in the workplace. However, you can still keep an eye on when your employees show up at work too late or look sleepy. In the corporate cafeteria, you can notice if any of them are deprived of food or, on the contrary, eat more than usual. All these changes can indicate issues.
Lack of interest in activities - Another clear red flag that is hard to notice is the loss of interest in everyday activities. Spotting this issue requires carefully observing your workers throughout the day and noticing even the slightest changes. Nevertheless, if you notice that your employees are not interested in their day-to-day activities and even the most engaging projects, this might mean that they are in bad mental health conditions.
Changes in working patterns - Sometimes, workers who can’t handle changes in their own mental health start unconsciously changing their habitual patterns. This can be noticed in the way they perform their daily tasks. Often, professionals in different spheres have their own rituals and working patterns to address specific problems. When these well-established patterns change, this can mean that they are going through a bad mental health condition.
Withdrawal from social activities - Working in any company means being a part of the team and having to socialize a lot with other people within the company. This includes regular communication, collaboration, and after-work activities like team building, etc. As was mentioned earlier, bad employee mental health can affect their ability to socialize effectively. Thus, if you notice withdrawal from social activities and situations, you might want to support employee mental health more.
Increased absence - Finally, the last sign that indicates that you might want to start supporting employee mental health more is increased absenteeism in your workers. When you see that one or a few workers start skipping work on a regular basis, this might mean that they are going through severe mental health conditions and probably feel like they can’t cope with their issues with mental health at work.
These aren’t the only indicators of the poor emotional wellness of your workers. Yet, these signals are the clearest and most accurate ones. So you should carefully observe your workers’ everyday behaviors, and if they demonstrate at least one symptom from the list above, it might be time for your company to start supporting employee mental health on a deeper level.
Reasons to Support Employees' Mental Health
On the one hand, it can feel like it’s not so important to support mental health in the workplace. After all, everyone should be responsible for their own mental health and well-being. However, good organizational leaders know that it’s not true.
In reality, supporting employee mental health in the workplace has many benefits, not only for the individual worker but for the entire company too. Here are some of the main reasons why you should care more about your employees’ mental health:
It’s a surefire way to reduce absenteeism;
It leads to increased productivity;
Poor emotional wellness of employees harms the global economy and makes your company lose money too;
It helps encourage employees to collaborate more;
It boosts the overall atmosphere and culture in the workplace;
It helps ensure a better work-life balance, satisfaction, and retention of employees.
These are just a few of the many mental health benefits that your employees and business can receive.
On top of that, it’s also worth mentioning that taking care of employee mental health also helps build trust. When you show your workers that their mental health condition is important and that the company cares about their well-being, you earn their trust and loyalty. As a result, this has a positive effect on everything in your business, including revenue.
7 Ideas to Support Employee's Mental Health
Now you know why supporting mental health at work means a lot for your business and what benefits you can gain from it. You also know how to spot mental illness in your workers.
Now, how do you promote well-being and support employee mental health in your own team?
In this part of our guide, we are going to give you 7 effective ideas that will let you show your workers how much you care about them and support their mental health in the workplace:
1. Empower Your Team With the Right Mental Health Resources
Providing resources that support and promote workplace mental health is the first thing you should do as a leader who cares about your team’s well-being and success. Different mental health resources are there to educate people about possible mental health challenges and enable them to address and solve their own issues before they can impact their lives or interfere with work performance.
One thing you can opt for is an employee assistance program (or EAP). In a nutshell, an employee assistance program is a short counseling service for workers who face challenges with their mental wellness. Among other mental health resources, EAPs are the most thorough as they provide personalized counseling services tailored to the needs of every particular specialist.
Apart from EAPs, there are also plenty of services, tools, and other mental health resources. These resources can be all-encompassing or cover only one or a few topics. For example, there are many individual resources on stress management, substance abuse, mental fitness, disease control, and many related topics. Whatever you choose for your team, empowering workers with the right5 resources can help them recognize, understand, and manage their mental illness with ease and, thus, reach well-being.
2. Provide High-Quality Mental Health Training
Apart from giving your workers access to helpful resources, you can support them by offering mental health training. Don’t get this confused with giving access to mental health support services and therapy. Of course, it’s important that you provide coverage for mental health. However, giving your team insurance with mental health coverage isn’t enough. Even if your employers have mental health coverage, there is no guarantee that they will be able to recognize when they need support and use the available therapy.
Providing relevant training, on the other hand, will educate them more on mental wellness. It will help them see and understand the signs of different mental health challenges. Also, efficient training will help them learn where to go for help and how to use the available resources to their benefit. All in all, relevant training programs will provide your team with a more thorough overview of this subject.
What’s more, there are programs that will let you train managers along with your workers. By training managers, you will be able to help them see the signs of mental illness in their workers and support mental health in them.
3. Embrace Communication to Reduce Stigma
In the work environment, when there are many people who need to socialize and interact with each other on a daily basis, it can be especially difficult to talk about one’s emotional distress and issues. It’s absolutely natural for workers to be afraid of social judgment. And we have to admit that these fears are justified.
Due to a lack of understanding and education on these topics, discussions of mental health at work can be very stressful and indeed cause some stigma. The best way to reduce stigma is to embrace communication and openness. You need to assure your workers that sharing their feelings and emotions is absolutely natural and that they should never feel ashamed of it. Also, it’s crucial to teach everyone how to react to such confessions and show genuine support to each other.
Promoting this level of openness and trust will help you create a healthier atmosphere in a team and boost camaraderie. As a result, this will improve the overall workplace mental health, retention, and productivity.
4. Run Surveys
These days, we are living at a fast pace. Every day, we can face a variety of issues and challenges. So workplace stress is something that every worker faces from time to time. With this in mind, a great way to promote mental wellness in a company is to ask your employees about their challenges and feelings and work from there.
Running regular anonymous surveys is a good way to improve emotional health in the workplace. With the help of surveys, you can encourage employees to share their personal stories and feelings in a safe, anonymous way. Based on the information your workers provide through such surveys, you can find effective strategies to improve well-being and support them on a daily basis.
You should see such surveys as tools for gathering valuable information about your employees without making them feel stressed or overwhelmed. This will be especially helpful in teams that still lack trust and understanding.
5. Reduce Everyday Stress
When trying to support employee mental health most companies focus on educating their teams on stress management. Without any doubt, communicating effective techniques for managing stress in the workplace is important. But it’s not enough to ensure a high level of well-being and mental health at work. In order to do this, you should not only tell your team how to cope with stress but actually reduce the amount of stress they experience on an everyday basis.
In order to do this, you should first identify the key stress factors. Using the above tip, you can easily figure out what things your workers find the hardest and most stressful in their jobs. After you identify the key stressors, you need to come up with new strategies that will help you reduce their impact.
For example, if you find out that your workers suffer the most from a poor work-to-life balance, the easiest way to reduce stress for them is to offer flexible hours. If they suffer the most from the huge workload, the issue might be a lack of inner resources. In this case, you might want to staff up or empower your team with the tools they need to perform better with less effort.
6. Give Enough Time for Relaxation and Fun
Even when things look very bad with the employee mental health, there is always one silver lining to change this. Often, excessive emotional distress is a result of overload and burnout. So, an easy way to change this is to make more time for relaxation and fun.
Whether it’s a Friday night pizza, a team-building session, or just a group meeting devoted to informal communication - anything can work as a source of relaxation and fun for your team. Such traditions can significantly boost trust and camaraderie in your company and even lead to increased productivity.
Creating affinity groups inside your company can also help your employees develop a sense of community and mutual support. All these things will eventually help you support employee mental health and create a better atmosphere in the workplace. So if your business really cares about employees’ health, you shouldn’t make their lives all about working. You should also let them have fun and relax.
7. Make Well-Being a Part of Your Corporate Culture
Finally, there is one more idea that will let you ensure improved health and promote well-being in your workers. While good leaders show that they care about employee mental health, the best company leaders make it an integral part of the corporate culture.
What does this mean? In a nutshell, this means putting your workers’ satisfaction, comfort, and well-being at the top of your business’s priority list. It means creating a positive and safe workplace, giving more freedom, and providing your team with everything they need to achieve greater results with less stress. This can also mean emphasizing rest and family time rather than KPIs.
All in all, it means not saying but showing your employees that their mental health is important to the company.
How to Measure Employee's Mental Health With Eleviate
You already know about some of the easiest, yet most effective, ways to improve mental health of your workers. Now, we have one more tip for supporting mental health in the workplace even easier.
Eleviate has everything for your employees’ mental health. It is an all-in-one digital space that brings together the best well-being resources, mental health practices, breathing exercises, meditations, and even physical health programs to let users get the most mental health benefits.
Unlike many other similar solutions, Eleviate can be used both individually and in a group. There is a special program designed for companies that enable you to keep better track of your employee mental health and maximize the outcomes. Every employee will be able to stay on the right track with their physical and mental health, complete workouts and practices, and track their moods. You, as a leader, will receive direct reports on how well your team performs and what mental health benefits they obtain through this program. Eleviate is the number one solution for mental health for employees. So be sure to give it a try!