According to a survey by the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA), nearly 50 percent of respondents diagnosed with an anxiety disorder said stress and mental health issues regularly impact their work life. Clearly, this a big issue. So how are businesses are dealing with all the stress and mental hurdles their teams face on a daily basis?
The answer is better left with the the experts. We wanted to consider their thoughts on how they like to deal with stress and mental health issues around the office/job site. So we reached out and asked them to do just that.
Here’s what they said.
Establish a flexible, understanding work environment
Mental health problems create significant disruptions in the workplace that end up hurting your bottom line. Establishing a work environment that is flexible and understanding costs more up front, but it pays in the form of employee satisfaction and efficiency.
Business leaders should be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to mental health. A positive, healthy work environment always starts at the top, so you have to practice what you preach when interacting with your employees. (Learn more about supporting a healthy work environment with Supporting Employee Mental Health in the Workplace.)
Employees are more stressed than ever and it is impacting productivity and the bottom line.
This is where industrial and organizational psychologists like myself become part of the conversation. By applying psychological principles to the workplace, reducing the way workers respond to the stressors in their environment can be less impactful on their health.
As a psychologist who’s working on a project that combines wearable technology with stress management to reduce the impact of stress on the body, we know that you can’t simply eliminate stress in the workplace, but what you can do is help employees manage their reactions to stress and understand what happens in the face of stress.
Using technology as a stress management tool is the future. However, to see actual results employers need more than a free app to help their employees avoid burnout. (Discover some workplace wellness apps with 8 Workplace Wellness Apps to Boost Your Wellness Program.)
It’s all about perspective
It's not easy creating a workplace that promotes dedicated hard work without causing undue stress. However, it's essential for employers to make their workplace an environment in which employees don't feel overworked or underappreciated.
Sometimes, all it takes to ease the pressure is keeping everything in perspective and giving positive feedback and recognition. Hard work and dedication becomes less overwhelming when it's appreciated and understood to be part of a bigger picture. (Read Understanding the Impact of Chronic Workplace Stress.)
We must first assure that the workplace is safe for those who suffer
Before we can fully address workplace mental health issues, we must first assure that the workplace is safe for those may have issues. Education and awareness assist in decreasing stigma and increases empathy. Decreasing stigma assist in the increase of individuals feeling safe to address their issues and seek professional advice.
Start with policies that protect the impacted individual. Then proceed to gain more education on how to identify sign and symptoms.
Most importantly, have referral sources at the ready for everyone. (Learn more about investing in mental health with How Investing in Mental Health Can Make for a Better Workplace.)
Understand the two core components that stress us out
The key to understanding stress is to understand the two core components that stress us out:
Perceived high levels of responsibility. When we believe expectations for us are high or that we are greatly responsible for what happens to ourselves or our organizations.
Perceived low level of control. When we believe our actions will have little impact.
Most companies add programs to manage the physical aspects of stress by adding wellness rooms, exercise classes etc. These are important but not sufficient. Companies need to manage the two core issues.
However, an over correction on the first may reduce the sense of urgency that is often part of motivation. Therefore a minor reduction in perceived level of responsibility and a major increase in perceived control is often the ultimate solution.