Focusing on mental health: 6 steps business managers can take to support their employees’ well-being
In America and a lot of other countries around the world, May is mental health awareness month. During this season, people wonder how to improve mental health more than at any other time.
We are no exception to the rule. Kinda…
We know that mental health remains an important topic year-round for business people alike. So, we’re always looking for ways to ensure workplace well-being at all times.
In this article, we’re going to talk about the importance of keeping your employees stress-free and happy, and share tips on how you can improve your team’s overall mental health as a manager.
Why is mental stability of employees important?
If we turn to Google, it quickly becomes apparent that the topic of mental health is a big one. People actively look up things like “10 ways to prevent mental illness”, worry about creating a positive, welcoming environment at work, and wonder how to get better mentally, both as individuals and as a group.
There’s a good reason for that: both good and poor mental health are contagious. The more stable, positive, mindful employees your company has, the healthier your workspace will be. This, in turn, has a lot of impact on your company’s business performance. Let’s look at the most prominent benefits of maintaining a healthy workspace:
- It differentiates you from other companies as an employer. When you care about your employees’ mental health and make it your top priority, you become a more desirable employer and can source talents easier. Reputation is always an important factor!
- It reduces employee turnover. According to the findings of The Thriving at Work review, people with long-term mental health problems tend to leave jobs at twice the rate of colleagues who don’t have mental health problems. If you want to minimize the costs associated with high employee churn levels, you need to focus on establishing a positive, healthy workspace that prioritizes the employees’ well-being.
- It helps cut business costs. The same The Thriving at Work review outlines that poor mental health costs the UK economy up to £99bn every year. You can only imagine how detrimental it is on the US economy where healthcare isn’t free. £42bn of this is a direct cost to employers lost through sick leave and other problems associated with distress, anxiety, etc.
- It helps boost your teams’ productivity. Good mental health at work and good management go hand in hand, and there is strong evidence that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are more productive. According to stats, addressing wellbeing at work increases productivity by as much as 12%. At the end of the day, happy employees equals motivated, hard-working employees. In fact, the BITC report shows that FTSE 100 companies that prioritize employee wellbeing outperform the rest of the FTSE 100 by 10%.
All things considered, there’s no doubt that good mental health among employees is crucial for the adequate performance of your business. Creating a positive, healthy workspace is the right thing for any company to do. Now, the only thing left for us to sort out is how to help and take care of your mental health, and the mental health of your team.
Here at VistaCreate, we strive to ensure that every employee is comfortable at work, so over the years, we’ve developed a lot of different ways to improve mental health at our workplace. Let’s dive into our collection of proven, actionable, and good mental health tips.
How to better your mental health and the well-being of your team at work
As a manager, what can you do to improve your mental health and the mental health of the team you manage? Below, we’ve put together a list of the best things to help mental health in the workplace.
Focus on enabling positive work-life balance for your employees
Even the most motivated, productive employees are prone to burning out if they’re not alternating work with leisure. It’s a normal reaction to exhaustion: the job that you initially fell in love with can quickly become too much for you if you’re not taking breaks from it. At the end of the day, everything is good in moderation, even the things you enjoy.
According to research conducted by Mental Health Foundation,
- 1 in 3 feel unhappy about the time they devote to work
- Over 40% of respondents are neglecting other aspects of their life because of work
- When working long hours, 27% feel depressed, 34% feel anxious, and 58% feel irritable
- Nearly two thirds of employees have experienced a negative effect on their personal life such as a lack of personal development, poor home life, and physical and mental health issues
All of this leads to burnout.
As a manager, you need to ensure that none of your employees are getting overworked, sucked in by the routine. It’s vital that they have enough time to spend with their loved ones outside of the office.
There are several strategies you can implement at your workplace to achieve a perfect work-life balance…
✅ Focus on task completion rather than hours worked
A regular working day is 8-hours long. However…
Research indicates that five hours is about the maximum that most of us can concentrate hard on something.
Alex Pang, founder of Silicon Valley consultancy Strategy and Rest
You shouldn’t force your employees to sit in front of their computers for 8 hours straight every day. Instead, you should give them the freedom to work as much as they need to complete their task for the day.
📲 Give your employees the right to disconnect
After-work hours should be completely work-free. Period. No business should be dealt with outside of work hours (unless you pay for the employee’s overtime, of course).
So, make sure you overcome the urge to send your employees a cheeky email or a Slack message (just so you don’t forget about this very important thing tomorrow) late at night or early in the morning, no matter how strong it is.
Even if the intended recipient of your message doesn’t respond straight away, it’s likely that they’ll see the notification and have their resting time interrupted by work-related thoughts.
Introduce a shorter working week
The 4-day working week is becoming increasingly more popular in the corporate world. The reason for this is the immense positive impact a shorter working week has on employee satisfaction, happiness, and, therefore, productivity.
And if you aren’t prepared to jam 5 days’ worth of work into a 4-day working week, you can still hop on the trend and implement something less radical yet equally effective — shorter Fridays.
In fact, here at VistaCreate, we introduced a practice under the codename Recharge Fridays, where employees have half a day off every Friday in the summer and are already enjoying great results from this initiative!
Eliminate stress as much as possible
Another source of poor mental health is too much work-related stress. As a manager, you need to take care of your team’s workload, adjust it where needed, and ensure that nothing is bugging you or your employees to the point where they feel anxious about work.
There are numerous different components that can contribute to work stress. Your task is to minimize their impact and, if possible, eradicate them at all. Here are a couple of practices to boost your team’s well-being at the workplace:
Set clear requirements and communicate them well
There’s nothing more stressful for an employee than having to complete a task without knowing exactly what needs to be done. This can generate unnecessary stress and raise anxiety levels, which, in turn, will have detrimental effects on the employee’s well-being.
To make sure everyone is on the same page, you need to set clear expectations when assigning tasks and talk through the KPIs you want your employees to achieve.
Be your team’s advocate
When your employees work with other teams within your company, tasks will start piling up. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to make sure you protect your team members from too many tasks and say ‘no’ to the projects and tasks that can’t be completed without working overtime.
Frequently review your employees’ workload
Turn workload review sessions into a corporate habit. Always check in with your employees to see whether they’re okay with the amount of work they have on their table and adjust it accordingly.
If you see that an employee is struggling with a certain amount of work, discuss the possible ways of rearranging the tasks and prioritizing the most important ones. Discard and delegate the ones that can be outsourced.
Promote effective time management techniques in the workplace
Make sure your employees aren’t too overwhelmed by their workload and know how to get through it in a timely manner, while also not stressing too much about it. Educate your team on the importance of time management and share the most effective time management techniques and strategies.
Offer flexibility at the workplace
It’s imperative that your employees don’t feel like you control every step they take. They need to have an adequate amount of freedom and control over their workday and the tasks they work on.
To offer more flexibility at the workplace, practice the following:
- Give your employees an option to work at home. However…
- Don’t make this choice final: if your employees want to work from the office, let them do so.
- Have flexible working hours.
- Let your employees choose whether they prefer to discuss business over the phone or in text.
Moreover, you can also give your employees a chance to rearrange their tasks to a certain degree. Use the priority system (Top priority, first priority, second priority, etc.) to indicate the most important tasks and let your team members decide on the order of the less important ones.
Speaking of priorities…
Make your employees’ well-being a priority
Put employees’ mental health and overall well-being at the top of your business, not only on paper but also in reality. Reinforce it in everything you do.
🌿 Create a chill zone at your office
Arrange a space where your employees can take a break from work, socialize with colleagues, and have fun.
Something as simple as a common room, where people from different departments can get together to chat about both work-related and non-work-related issues, would be a great start.
Then, you can level up your chill zone by adding a ping-pong table, a gaming console, a pool, or anything else your employees might enjoy.
🧘 Have yoga or meditation classes during lunch-time
Train your employees on how to be mentally healthy. The best way to mental stability is through regular mental exercise such as yoga or meditation.
Some companies even hire masseuses to give back rubs to people during lunchtime and breaks. It’s all about making sure your employees are as relaxed as possible!
🍛 Take care of your catering
It’s difficult to underestimate the impact physical health has on mental health. If you want your employees to be mentally healthy, you need to make sure they eat and drink well. Having good catering at the office will give your employees a couple of extra spare hours they would’ve otherwise spent on preparing food to take with them.
Be attentive to your employees; build a culture of connection
Another important thing you need to focus on if you want to establish a healthy workplace and improve your employees’ mental health is team relationships. Some pieces of advice we have previously shared already touch on this subject and — once brought to life — can contribute toward improving your intrateam relationships. However, if you want your team to be guaranteed safe space for every employee, you need to double down on the efforts and take some deliberate action.
To bring your employees closer together and make them more comfortable with each other, you can try out the following:
- Facilitate group projects. You know what they say, teamwork makes dreams work. This is true for almost every work-related situation. Employees that share common projects tend to grow more fond of each other since they spend a lot of time together and, therefore, get to share special moments, get to know each other better, and get used to each other. Besides, splitting the work between several people can take the strain off each individual employee and make them feel less overwhelmed with work.
- Hold work-unrelated employee events. Team building is always great: not only is it fun, but it also helps create a friendly atmosphere in the workplace.
- Provide an outlet to give and receive feedback. All your employees should be able to talk about their experiences working together to voice their concerns, and to solve them before they grow into something bigger. Moreover, creating a transparent environment like that makes it easier for managers to spot any possible conflicts. It’s in their best interest to approach conflicts head-on and solve them as soon as possible.
On top of that, it’s also important to build trust between you as a manager and your team. You need to ensure that everyone feels comfortable and safe, and can approach you for a conversation if they feel like they need one.
Sometimes, however, employees can feel awkward initiating conversations about their own mental health. Handle this by building a culture of connection through regular check-ins: don’t shy away from popping up to your team members directly to find out how they’re doing and if there’s anything they would like to talk about.
In fact, when a new employee joins your team, let them know that you’re always there for them, available to discuss their mental health, and offer possible solutions if they need any support. Then, reinforce this position by regularly reminding them about your stance on the importance of well-being in the workplace.
Add mental health support to your corporate health care package
However, no matter how attentive you are to your employees’ well-being, you need to also remember that you aren’t a trained professional. While you can spot signs of distress, you don’t have the required qualifications to diagnose your employees with any mental health problems. That’s why you need to have someone who can do that.
Offer your employees free therapy as a part of your corporate benefits package. This should also include services adjacent to the topic of mental health, like mediations, yoga, fitness classes, etc.