Mental and emotional health in the workplace is rarely the focus of organizational culture — it should be, though!
The emotional well-being of each employee affects how they cope with daily stress to stay productive. An unhealthy work environment impairs these cognitive abilities and can result in staggering productivity losses. Moreover, companies with an unhealthy work environment have high absenteeism and turnover.
Thus, investing in your employee’s emotional health can be a great business development opportunity. Still, there is one more reason why you should take immediate steps towards a healthier working environment: modern employees expect it. A recent survey revealed that 72% of employees want their employers to champion mental health and well-being, and they rated it more important than equality, sustainability, or diversity.
The good news is that it doesn’t take much to get your workplace on the path to emotional wellness. Adopting these 5 simple practices in your company will have an immediate impact on the mental health and well-being of your employees.
1. Develop an atmosphere of psychological safety
An atmosphere of psychological safety is fundamental to developing good working relationships and emotional health. Thus, it is vital to clearly communicate that any signs of intimidation, bullying, or sexual harassment contradict your corporate values.
Educate your team about common threats to mental and emotional health in the workplace such as false righteousness or fratricidal wars. Encourage the team to spot these problems, discuss them openly, and ask for help. Do not automatically penalize individuals for admitting their mistakes, but rather, help them to see their mistakes as opportunities for growth.
2. Openly discuss emotional health
Encourage open communication about burnout, anxiety, and depression rather than issues to try to hide. Employees need to feel that their emotional health will be taken seriously, with no stigma attached. You may even want to invite a psychologist to give a lecture on the signs of these states, as well as methods of prevention. For example, your team may want to learn how to practice mindfulness at work, which is a proven way to reduce the impact of workplace stress.
It is important that each employee knows how to provide emotional support to the coworkers around them. You can implement an educational program to teach your employees to reach out to coworkers if they look emotionally distressed. Still, if you cannot afford such expenses, you can still introduce quality educational resources like TedTalks and then take 20 minutes of your meeting to view and discuss them with your team.
Remember to engage your remote employees in the discussion. The lack of regular social interaction and meaningful relationships with coworkers can cause feelings of isolation and disconnection, putting their mental health at risk. At the same time, it is more difficult to spot their emotional distress and reach out when it’s needed.
3. Encourage balance
Balance has a tremendous impact on emotional well-being. This relates to both genuine work-life balance and a balanced workday. Whenever it’s possible, allow your employees to have flexible schedules or the option to work from home. Long commute times with heavy traffic, an inability to accommodate work and family responsibilities, no time to visit a doctor, etc. are all causes of stress and anxiety that can easily be avoided when a person works flexible hours.
Resilience to stress depends on the amount of rest and sleep people get. Thus, do not make excessive overtime hours a reason for employee recognition. On the contrary, if you see that employees are compelled to work overtime, reconsider their workload or suggest additional training. Be a role model here too: limit your own number of working hours and take vacations regularly. Working more doesn’t mean being more productive, while a good rest is proven to increase energy, focus, and productivity.
Maintaining a healthy balance between focused uninterrupted work and communication is another factor that affects mental health in the workplace. Do not encourage multitasking. Instead of increasing productivity, it increases stress, erodes memory, and kills creativity. The need to answer every phone call or check every message on your team’s chat app in real-time is just as harmful.
4. Support physical wellness
A healthy lifestyle, physical activity, and good nutrition are directly associated with emotional wellness. Yes, all of these are personal choices, but there is a lot you can do to encourage healthier living. For example, providing a cozy kitchen with a refrigerator and a microwave can encourage your team to make healthy meals rather than eat out. Buying fruit and low-calorie snacks rather than unhealthy snacks can help them make better choices. Offering a gym membership or incentivizing your employees to take advantage of fitness training can remove certain barriers to physical fitness.
If there is no room for these expenses in your budget, there are many other things you can do. Remind your employees to drink much water and make it readily accessible — maybe even with a company-branded water bottle. When looking for office spaces, choose ones that allow more natural light. Add mirrors or a transom window to create additional light in the workplace. Harvard Business Review calls natural light a #1 office perk, the lack of which makes employees feel tired and gloomy. You can also hold meetings and team building activities outdoors rather than in the office.
5. Nurture meaningful relationships in your ream
Meaningful relationships are the secret key to mental health and longevity. People and relationships, not office premises, create a sense of belonging and community. With the increase in working hours, people are finding it difficult to maintain positive relationships with their family and friends outside of work. This makes it even more important to help your team form meaningful relationships at work.
This can be accomplished by nurturing communication and social interactions in the workplace. Help people get to know each other using common icebreakers and interesting team building activities. Organize social events to celebrate professional and personal milestones. Show support to employees that deal with unfortunate life events. Allow your employees to occasionally bring their children or pets to work. Organize special parties for employees’ children —The New Year and Halloween may be great occasions to do this.
Emotional health in the workplace
Creating an emotionally healthy workplace has great benefits, including:
- improved resilience to stress and mental health issues
- increased productivity and engagement
- less sick leaves and medical bills
- better retention of employees
At the same time, creating an environment of psychological wellness isn’t difficult or expensive. It’s all about creating a culture that promotes psychological safety, open communication, work-life balance, physical health, and meaningful relationships.
How do you promote emotional health in the workplace? What particular strategies have given the best results? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Nataly Havrysh is a marketing manager at Chanty — a simple AI-powered team chat. This powerful and free Slack alternative is aimed at increasing team productivity and improving communication at work. Nataly is an editor and content writer thrilled about researching topics in sociology, psychology, personal growth, modern IT trends, management, and internet marketing. An active mom, passionate about her work, Nataly is a pro in personal time management.