The mental health of your employees directly impacts your company’s bottom line. Costs associated with workers' unaddressed mental health issues and subsequent reduction in corporate productivity are a significant problem in today’s workplace. Increases in absenteeism, stress-related illnesses, staff turnover, addictions, and personal conflicts are just a few of the symptoms that contribute to an unhealthy and unproductive workplace. (Learn more in Supporting Employee Mental Health in the Workplace).
Here are some mental health tools to improve your employees’ resilience and job performance:
1. Initiate A Workplace Mental Health Assessment
There are many mental health assessment tools available to your organization, including those offered by occupational health and safety consultants and a variety of online resources. Most of these tools are “first-step” indicators as to whether or not there is a concern regarding a worker’s mental health. Additionally, they are a great way to get everyone in the organization thinking about mental health in the workplace. If you are concerned about someone’s mental health, always consult with an appropriate health care professional.
2. Develop A Mental Health Fitness Plan
Outline your company’s commitment to mental health and develop a plan that is supported by daily, monthly and yearly activities, measurements, and ways to access and distribute mental health resources. Just as a physical fitness plan helps to improve an individual’s physical health, regular mental health fitness activities will help improve their health, job performance, and the resilience of your organization.
3. Engage Your Employees In Healthy Breaks
Although traditional coffee breaks have been the norm in the workplace for many years, many organizations are now choosing to take advantage of break time to ensure that employees have a scheduled opportunity to invigorate or relax, alone or as part of a team. Stretch and exercise breaks, yoga, walks, and breathing exercises are just a few ideas that can make a difference to both the mental and physical well-being of your staff. Ask your team to suggest healthy break activities to ensure greater participation and ultimately a healthier workplace.
4. Support Work-Life Balance Programs
The challenge of balancing the demands of family and the job is not getting easier and is a significant cause of stress at home and in the workplace. Companies that offer alternative work arrangements, such as working from home options, a compressed work week, in-house daycare, or flextime policies, provide their employees with better opportunities to organize their lives and manage stress.
5. Provide Access To Mental Health Resources
Make sure mental health information is readily available in your workplace and that everyone is aware of how to find it, whether it be through your health and safety representative, human resources, or online. It is essential to promote the availability of these resources and access to health care professionals whenever the opportunity presents itself. Reinforce the support of management when dealing with mental health issues.
6. Evaluate Your Mental Health Program And Recognize Efforts
Your workplace mental health strategy should be evaluated on a regular basis to ensure that you are making a difference. Establish baselines to compare measurable statistics like absences or the number of internal conflicts that required formal resolution. To measure more subjective outcomes, create an evaluation team made up of a representative from all job classifications in your organization to gauge team health and to suggest changes to the plan moving forward. A confidential mental survey distributed throughout your organization will also help to measure success. Celebrate your team achievements and encourage improvement when needed.
7. Create A Communication Plan To Reinforce The Importance Of Mental Health
Communication is the key to any successful workplace program. Create an atmosphere of inclusiveness in the program by involving as many employees as possible. Make sure that you use a variety of communication tools such as:
- Corporate website and social media
- In-person meetings
Regular lunch-and-learn sessions are also a great way to heighten interest in the program, especially if you can feature healthcare professionals or a mental health expert. It’s also an opportunity to answer questions and to discuss workplace surveys and statistics with your team. (Learn more in 7 Steps for Implementing A Workplace Wellness Program).
8. Manage Your Employees’ Workloads To Support Mental Health
Too heavy of a workload can cause workers to show symptoms of anxiety or depression. It is crucial to ensure balanced workloads across your team and to discuss the amount of work that each employee has on their plate and help prioritize tasks on a regular basis. Letting your workers know that you are on their side will go a long way to build a positive attitude throughout the organization.
9. Make Workplace Safety Your Number One Concern
By creating a safe environment for work, you are supporting both the physical and mental health of your company. Besides implementing safety guidelines related to occupational hazards, don’t forget to develop or review policies and procedures related to bullying, harassment, or other types of inappropriate behavior.
10. Provide Access To Mental Health Treatment And Support
Whether it be through your company’s employee health insurance program, providing in-house support, or providing referrals to external health care professionals, it is essential that your workplace mental health initiative offers access to professional services for workers that need help. Remind your team about these resources as often as possible; make connecting to these supports as easy as possible.
The Importance Of A Mental Health Plan
Mental health is essential to the welfare of individuals on your team as well as the success of your organization. Through a proactive mental health plan that includes flexibility, access to resources, open communication, and avenues for counselling or treatment, your company will build a productive environment and minimize the barriers and stigmas related to mental health issues.