Employers who aren’t prepared to keep up with the mental health expectations for 2022 will likely see lower employee retention and satisfaction. Yet, mental health isn’t as an easy issue to tackle. It won’t be as easy as throwing money into pay raises or recognition programs. Improving the mental health of employees is a serious undertaking. It requires not ‘quick solutions’ or ‘easy fixes’ but a genuine revamping of the company culture and social progress. It might seem daunting at first, but its easy to achieve better workplace mental health. All it takes is acting in a mindful way and seeking a few common solutions. We’ve put our top choice of strategies below. Some solutions will likely fit your workplace better than others. Don’t feel that you have to take them all on board.
Encourage physical activity
When it comes to improving mental health, exercise is a common go-to. The link between exercise and positive mental health has been proven time and time again. So, it’s no surprise that’s it’s one of the first solutions we go to. At the same time, how does exercise fit in the office? Should employees be completing their quarterly reports on treadmills and pelotons? Not so much (unless they really want to). We’ve put a couple ways to encourage exercise in employees without needing to replacing desk weights with real ones.
- Installing an on-site gym or including a gym membership as part of salary packages
- Organising team walks during lunch breaks
- Trading in regular meetings for walking meetings
- Encouraging workers to get out of the office at lunch
- Starting a walking challenge
- Encouraging team sports
Note: Most of these tips have been previously covered in our article on employee burnout.
Offer flexibility in your work schedules
Another thing employees are caring about in 2022? Workplace flexibility. Working from home, working outside of office hours, or at a different pace, are all part of flexible work. We’ve covered workplace flexibility before. We’ve seen that not only is it a major benefit to employees but an effective way to cut costs. Companies that allow their employees to work from home are likely to see higher productivity.
The major thing about remote work though — it’s an easy way to boost morale and health in the workplace. In 2018 flexjobs ran a survey of over 3,000 respondents and questioned them on remote work. The survey found that 97% of respondents said that a job with flexibility would be a huge improvement to their overall quality of life. The survey also found that employee’s overall (as well as mental) health improved under remote working conditions. 77% of people in the survey said that having a flexible job would allow them to be healthier by making it easier to exercise more and eat better. 86% of respondents said that they would feel less stressed working remotely.
Keep in mind that remote work comes with its own unique set of challenges for employers. Thankfully we’ve already written a guide to help you, which you can read here.
Set a good example
Team leaders should focus on making sure that they are championing good mental health in the workplace. The way that a leader (or boss) acts around the office sets the tone for the environment and other employees. It’s important to not accidentally create a stressful or toxic workspace because of a bad day. Leaders must show that they can commit to creating a culture that is both understanding and supportive of their employees. They should demonstrate habits that aid in maintaining strong mental health such as being open in the discussion of mental health issues. Workers should feel that they are in an environment that prioritises mental health. One where they will find support if they choose to reach out.
Train senior and middle managers
Understanding mental health isn’t as intuitive as some people might think. Having a system in place to train management is crucial in creating a culture that will support strong mental health.
This issue was explored by Hays Journal 19 where CEO Mark Edgar, Co-founder of future forward in Canada had this to say: “It’s critically important for organisations to ensure their leaders have the right leadership skills to create an engaging and inclusive environment. More specifically, skills that increase awareness and confidence around managing mental health issues are a very important component of leadership development.”
The issue stressed the importance of developing strong skills in middle managers as well as upper management. Stating that it is the middle managers who are on the front line when it comes to enacting wider policies for creating a mentally healthy workplace. They are also the ones that interact personally with employees the most and are able to detect potential problems that they are having — or read certain tells.
With a mental health training program in place, these areas will see improvements. The frequency of mental health discussions will likely increase, and management will become better at detecting early signs of mental health issues. Putting training in place is a great way to get ahead on a problem before it begins.
Make feedback easy
Workers should have a way to reach out in a way that they are comfortable with. When it comes to discussing mental health issues, employees may not want to talk directly with a manager. The stigma around mental health can lend itself to unease and discomfort in its discussion. This is why it’s important that employees have a way to tell their employers how their mental health is being affected at work. They need to be able to do this in a way that suits them as well. The classic anonymous feedback box is a good solution for this one or, a similar online substitute. This will allow employees to discuss their problems at work without feeling called out.
Remember that there’s no point in setting up channels for feedback if the feedback isn’t utilised effectively. It’s even more important that any feedback provided by employees is taken on board and measurable action is taken to improve the situation. Doing this correctly will also help your employees to feel heard by the company.
Provide employees with all-around support for their mental health
Establishing effective mental health treatment across employees is not an easy task to tackle. While you might have a good system internally, trained employees and a strong culture, it may not be enough support. If you are looking to invest in the mental health of your employees then it might be worth considering outsourcing to another company.
Over the years multiple businesses have popped up with the sole purpose of helping larger companies to better the mental health of their employees. These businesses can offer everything from one-on-one coaching to self-care resources and medication. If you’d like to read on and compare some of the different companies then we suggested drifting over to this article by Artemis health which offers a comprehensive description of some of the top competitors in that field.
What does my company need?
The solutions that are put in place to assist workplace mental health change with the needs and current situation of employees. Of course, it’s always good to try and improve the workplace culture and make employees feel heard but how far should your company go?
An employee survey can be used to assess the current mental health conditions of the workplace. It can help guide the kind of action that needs to be taken and the level of support required by employees. It can additionally help to point out the areas of the workplace that are stressful, where more effort should be focused.
If you’re looking to improve mental health in the workplace, start with an employee survey. It can help cut costs by making sure you don’t overspend on unnecessary support that your employees don’t need. Simultaneously, it gives you enough of an understanding that you wont miss out on any areas where support is needed.
If you’re interested to learn more about what an employee survey can do for you, and how they can help your business, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at (08) 6314 0580.