For many of us, work is a major part of our lives. It’s where we spend most of our time, where we get our income, and where we often make friends. Having a fulfilling job can be good for mental health and general well-being. And the daily productivity and performance tend to reflect the state of mental health in a company.
As a leader, it’s important to be aware of how mental health impacts the company as a whole, as it can make all the difference in succeeding or losing precious time and effort. Below are three ways to boost employee mental health and productivity:
Building a culture of connection
Going beyond a simple “How are you?” already does a lot. Make sure to regularly check in on your employees. Communication platforms like Slack allow you to do regular check-ins if your team works from home, and even play games every once in a while, too.
Ask your employees about what other forms of support would be helpful to them. Really listen and encourage raising questions and concerns. Just be wary about boundaries so you can distinguish between overstepping and simply wanting to be friends. This will build trust between you as a leader, and your team.
Invest in your relationships in the workplace. The Mental Health Foundation recommends having well-being programs that can focus on individuals and the workplace as a whole. These programs can enhance employee control over their work, increase their participation in decision-making, or help train those next in line to become good leaders who can impact mental health positively.
Modeling positive behaviors to your team
Don’t just claim that you support mental health. Practice what you preach so that your team members feel that they can prioritize self-care and set boundaries without any worries.
Some managers tend to forget to take care of themselves because they’re so focused on their team’s well-being and on getting things done. Take breaks every once in a while and just breathe. Pain Free Working highlights how taking just a few minutes to breathe can do wonders for relieving stress and boosting mental health. Try sitting still and just focusing on taking deep breaths, with long inhales and exhales. This can help you clear your mind, and is something you can also recommend to your team.
When you’re practicing other self-care activities, share them to your team as well. And when you go on vacations, take them seriously by turning off work notifications. This way, you don’t burn out and show it.
Reducing the stigma
Be open to talking about stress management, self-care, and mental health. You can do this in meetings or in email communications, as it helps reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.
This way, employees will tend to trust that you won’t think of them as “crazy” in situations like having a panic attack, or fire them when they’re struggling with depression. They’ll even be more willing to seek treatment if necessary. Fortunately, most mental health conditions can be treated.
It’s also recommended to become a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) accredited company. The MHFA is an internationally recognized, evidence-based training program that teaches participants about common mental health issues. With this training, help is given to anyone developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. Having mental health first aid officers on-site provides security that you have immediate responders to assist when needed. Plus, it shows that you take mental health in the workplace seriously, thus reducing the stigma and letting employees appreciate the workplace better.
Article contributed by: Josie Andrews
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