With 1 in 5 Americans struggling with mental illness and over 85 percent of employees saying their wellbeing has suffered since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental wellness has become a top priority in the workplace. It’s no secret that employees with strong wellness support systems are less stressed, more productive, and less likely to quit. The question becomes: How can companies support their employees at work, especially during these uncertain times?
Below are a few of our favorite suggestions on improving mental health in the workplace.
Make Information Accessible
Simply letting employees know that someone is in their corner can make a huge difference. Support doesn’t have to be direct or explicit; just talking about mental health in the workplace and being open and honest about your struggles shows others they aren’t alone.
But it’s one thing to say “we’re here for you” and another entirely to provide specific and actionable support. This can be as simple as hanging up helpline flyers around the office to as involved as on-sight screenings or wellness workshops. The most important element is accessibility. If employees need help, there should be no barriers preventing them from getting it, no matter how small.
Fabulous Tip: Fabulous for Work puts a variety of stress management, meditation, and wellness information right in the palm of your employees’ hands.
Get Management Involved
Your managers have direct contact with your employees and will often know what’s going on with them both in and out of work. This is a double-edged sword; they have rapport with their team members but they can also feel powerless to help when their employees are struggling. Add that stress on top of their own personal struggles and you have a recipe for disaster.
Managers need tools and support of their own. Empower your team leaders by training them on how to have difficult conversations about mental illness. Give them resources and information they can pass along to team members who need it. And make sure they’re receiving plenty of support, too.
Establish Workplace Routines
The human brain really loves knowing what to expect. It’s why people are hard-wired to notice patterns and crave repetition. That’s why daily routines are so powerful. Having a daily routine eliminates uncertainty and gives you room to breathe while reducing decision fatigue.
Establishing routines at work can create much-needed stability while also offering opportunities for employees to connect. If you work in an office, try starting off your morning stand-up with coffee and conversation. Post watercooler topic questions in your company Slack workspace. Host walking meetings once a week. Give your employees something to look forward to every week, or even every day.
Fabulous Tip: Fabulous for Work members can try hosting a live challenge to get their employees involved in a routine!
Ask Your Employees
It might sound obvious, but often the easiest way to make sure people are getting the help they need is simply to ask them! They know what they need better than anyone, so give them the opportunity to communicate those needs so you can properly meet them.
The hardest part will be ensuring employees feel safe enough to be honest. Mental illness is still heavily stigmatized, particularly in Western culture, and disclosing a mental illness can cost people their jobs and livelihoods. This means that, often, those who need the most support will be the least likely to come forward. Anonymous surveys are a great way to let employees be fully open and honest, even if it’s uncomfortable.
Create Space For Fun
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a greater stress reliever than fun! Set some time aside to let your employees blow off some steam and connect with one another outside of work. Weekly game nights or happy hours (in-person or virtual) are great and easy to set up. Celebrate birthdays and company milestones. But be sure these events are all optional; no one has fun by force.
Alternatively, look for ways to eliminate particularly non-fun elements of work. What can be streamlined or automated? What meetings can be emails? Reducing stressful parts of the work environment can be just as beneficial as adding fun elements. Give it a try!
Promote Healthy Work-Life Balance
At the end of the day, the most valuable thing you can do to promote mental wellness in the workplace is to ensure employees have plenty of time to rest. This means respecting the boundaries of people off-duty. It also means ensuring employees take the vacation time afforded to them. It might also mean being more flexible with hours or allowing employees to work from home more often. The lines between work and personal life are growing blurrier by the day and it’s having a direct negative impact on employee mental health. People need time to rest and relax.
One quick and easy way to help ensure employees get the time away from work that they need is to teach them how to set up digital boundaries, like auto-responders for email.
Fabulous Tip: Did you know Fabulous has a Journey dedicated to learning how to disconnect? Try the Break Your Phone Addiction Journey today!
What Is Your 2022 Wellness Plan?
The discussion of mental health in the workplace is only going to become more important as we enter 2022. Does your company have a plan? How will you support your employees in the coming year?
If you haven’t got a plan or aren’t sure where to start, we’re here and ready to help. Request a Fabulous for Work demo today.