As companies prioritize employee well-being, mental health has become essential to workplace conversation. This Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s high time to take action and advocate for mental health in the workplace.
In this blog, we’ll share ten ways to support your employees’ mental health and create a more inclusive work environment. From minor adjustments to larger initiatives, you can make a difference and prioritize mental health at work.
Employee Well-Being at Work
Mental health conditions affect a significant portion of the working population. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 15 percent of adults at work struggle with their mental health. Unfortunately, due to stigma and poor understanding of mental illness, these conditions often go untreated, which leads to lost productivity at work—up to 12 billion working days are lost annually due to anxiety and depression alone.
This underscores the importance of recognizing and prioritizing mental health in the workplace. Employers can help employees feel valued and empowered to contribute their best work by fostering a supportive environment. ¹
Strategies to Advocate for Your Employees
Here are some refining strategies for your work culture that you may want to try. These can help employees increase mental well-being and foster better mental health awareness.
1. Foster a Culture of Open Communication and Documentation
Fostering a culture of open communication in the workplace is crucial. Encouraging employees to share their mental health concerns or request accommodations with team leaders or HR representatives helps create an environment that prioritizes inclusivity and support. By documenting these requests, companies can effectively address issues and make necessary changes that benefit employees. Further, you’ll better understand how to support your team.
Remember that prioritizing mental well-being starts with open communication and a safe space for employees to share their concerns without fear of judgment or repercussions.
As you strive to foster open communication and inclusion within your business, take time to understand everyone’s unique needs and work together to create solutions that empower your team members to prioritize their well-being.
2. Implement Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and Counseling Services
EAPs connect employees to mental health providers to help employee well-being, and almost all services are free. Offering an EAP connects your staff to counseling services that provide excellent ways to support your employees’ mental health.
Workplace mental health is essential and can significantly affect the company’s workload and productivity. Mental health programs offer support to company members to help them understand common mental conditions, risk factors, and related policies.
Whether offering counseling sessions or partnering with local service providers, creating opportunities for free or low-cost access to mental health resources goes a long way in making employees feel valued and supported.
3. Seek Employee Input on Mental Health Policies and Wellness Initiatives
Regular surveys and focus groups allow staff to offer feedback on current practices and suggest ways to support their needs better. This open dialogue promotes a culture of empathy where individuals can be heard, valued, and supported.
Employees are a valuable resource for developing effective mental health policies and accommodations. By involving them in this process, you can better understand their unique needs and tailor solutions that promote well-being and productivity.
4. Provide Reasonable Accommodations for Employees with Disabilities
Creating an inclusive work environment means providing reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. This is not just good practice; it’s also required by law. By offering reasonable accommodations such as adding wheelchair ramps, modifying schedules, or allowing consistent breaks, you can create a workplace where everyone’s needs are met.
Accommodations give employees the tools to do their best work and promote a culture of respect, empathy, and inclusion that significantly impacts your team’s overall well-being.
5. Implement Flexible Work Arrangements
Some people thrive in less traditional work environments. Offering remote work options or deploying a 4-day workweek can give employees more control over their lives, reducing anxiety and stress. It also provides more work-life balance.
By offering flexibility, you’re empowering your team to prioritize their mental health while still fulfilling their responsibilities at work.
6. Train Managers and Staff in Mental Health Conditions
Offering mental health training programs increases employee awareness of common mental health disorders and provides practical tools for addressing them. Managers and staff who understand mental health conditions can offer three impactful ways to support employee well-being:
- Identify early warning signs of mental health issues and provide support to their employees
- Help create an open-door policy where employees feel comfortable requesting an accommodation
- Play an active role in destigmatizing mental health in the workplace
Additionally, managers can occasionally check in with their team members to see how they’re doing. These conversations can make the leaders more aware of their team’s emotions and progress, as poor performance is often a sign of poor mental health.
7. Create and Enforce Clear Boundaries Around Work Hours and Expectations
Everyone gets tired sometimes, and the workplace is no exception, so prioritizing work-life balance is essential. One way of giving importance to your employee’s mental health is by establishing clear boundaries. To help employees achieve this balance, create and enforce clear boundaries around work hours and expectations. This includes setting specific times for work calls, meetings, and after-hours communication. Doing so promotes a culture where everyone has time to rest and recharge outside of work.
Also, when managers don’t practice good work-life balance themselves, like coming early to the office or working late, it sends a message that employees need to do the same. Promoting a work-life balance should come from the top, and managers can do this by setting an example for their workforce.
Supporting your employees’ mental health increases productivity and promotes a happier workforce.
8. Encourage Regular Breaks and Rest
While it may seem counterintuitive, taking regular breaks throughout the day increases productivity. ² Encourage your team to step away from their desks for lunch, take a walk outside, or engage in self-care activities like meditation or yoga.
These small breaks help your employees recharge and can greatly impact their morale and help prevent burnout.
9. Foster a Safe and Inclusive Work Environment
This begins by promoting acceptance and embracing diversity, no matter an individual’s race, religion, or gender identity.
Remember that creating an inclusive workplace does not happen overnight – it requires constant effort and attention. Respecting and understanding team members’ backgrounds, individual choices, and beliefs encourages employees to be themselves and cultivates a culture of respect.
10. Celebrate Small Wins and Progress
Finally, creating an inclusive workplace also means celebrating the little wins. Recognizing an employee’s contribution to a project or giving positive feedback on completed work can brighten someone’s day and provide an emotional boost. By recognizing progress, you can validate your employees and support their mental well-being.
GALT FOUNDATION CAN POSITION YOUR BUSINESS TO MEET DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION INITIATIVES
Galt Foundation is one of the largest staffing organizations in the world for employees with disabilities. We have over 20 years of proven experience in the industry, offering customized staffing solutions to support your business needs. Get in touch with us. Call us toll-free at 1-877-361-1277 or submit our contact form here.
1 “Mental Health at Work”. World Health Organization, www.who.int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use/promotion-prevention/mental-health-in-the-workplace. Accessed 17 Apr. 2023.
2. Breaks Are the Key to High Productivity – businessnewsdaily.com. “Breaks Are The Key To High Productivity “. Business News Daily, 2023, https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6387-employee-breaks.html. Accessed 4 May 2023.