With the arrival of the global pandemic came an increased awareness and understanding of people’s mental health and well-being. More and more people were seeking out mental health programs and resources to manage conditions such as depression, anxiety, and addiction.
A larger percentage of employees [over 77% in the US] were tasked with working at home, away from their colleagues, save for a weekly team meeting video conference. People missed the general chit-chat in communal areas and the social aspects of going to work. With localized restrictions, a vast amount of people were forced to stay at home and not have visitors. Mental health was affected then and is still being affected now as people return to work not understanding the new normal. However, it is imperative that this is tackled head-on and with consistency.
What Do We Mean by Mental Health?
It is essential to understand this term before taking action against it. It is a huge term covering emotional, psychological, and overall well-being. It cannot be brushed aside as a weakness or be labeled as ‘it’s all in your head.’ Studies have found that poor mental health can lower life expectancy, increase anxiety and stress, lead to cardiovascular diseases, and be more likely to suffer mental health issues than you are to develop cancer! Something so severe needs carefully planned steps to support those who suffer from it.
The ‘Cost’ to Your Company
Your company will not only suffer financially but will also see a reduction in productivity if mental health concerns are ignored. The person experiencing a mental health issue will work below their capabilities to merely get through the day. This is not healthy for them, nor is it beneficial for your business. You could find yourself losing valuable employees due to poor mental health if you as a company do not act. This could be any staff member regardless of their role – including you!
Practical Strategies for the Workplace
- Promoting a work-life balance is a must. Set a time when emails and messages are not allowed to be sent. Receiving an email at 9 pm is not healthy if you officially leave work at 4 pm. Having time to shut off from work is essential in promoting a positive working environment. Praising early starters and late workers have been proven to be a detrimental approach that leads to burnout. Regular breaks away from the office or off-site are also significant for shutting off from work and allowing the mind to reset.
- Talking. It sounds simple, but many people don’t feel comfortable talking about their mental health as they see it as a weakness. Making it normal to talk about mental health helps people to stop bottling up their emotions and keeping the worries to themselves. Talking allows people to explain and help others understand what they are going through.
- Exercise has been proven to be a brilliant way to help improve people’s state of mental health. This doesn’t need to be a full hour of intense cardio every day but a little and often strategy. Going for a walk during lunch for a coffee, a short yoga session, or having a table tennis table in the staffroom. Anything that encourages movement and isn’t work-related is excellent for releasing endorphins that make us feel good.
- Screenings and self-assessments help you as a company stay on the right foot and can help provide support in the early stages of mental health issues rather than waiting for extreme conditions. Some employees won’t know that their mental health is poor and will often think that a little bit of stress will just go away on its own. Self-assessments or screenings with a professional could be a real eye-opener. Again, making these normal in the workplace will encourage trust and a feeling of security in the workplace.
Lots to think about and lots of small changes that can be made to ensure your workforce is in the best shape moving forward. Acting quickly is hugely beneficial to you and your employees.
How can your organization thrive in the future of work? DH has created a strategic people plan to help uncover gaps and move your culture into the future.
About the Author