Mental health and wellbeing in the workplace have always been important issues. However, with people now returning to work while the threat of Covid still looms large, employers must do everything they can to support employees and reduce the stigma.
Why Mental Health Issues Matter In The Workplace
Mental health at work has been a hot topic throughout the pandemic and the return to working environments after furlough and work from home schemes. Millions of employees are now anxious about returning to the workplace, while many others have found that remote working has helped them achieve a better work-life balance.
In fact, one in three workers states that they’d rather quit than return to the workplace. This is just one of the many reasons employers must start building healthy workplaces. Additional reasons to focus on mental health at work include but are not limited to;
- Employees work harder when they are happy.
- Poor mental health increases human error and can spread to colleagues.
- It costs an average of £12,000 to replace an average employee who quits.
- Happier employees will provide better customer experiences.
- Mental health problems cost UK businesses £45bn per year.
Promoting positive mental health will protect productivity and profitability while also creating a better working environment from an employer’s perspective. When added to the human responsibility of supporting employees with their long term mental wellness, it must play a central role in your health and safety protocols.
How Can Your Business Promote Good Mental Health At Work?
The need to support employees returning to work has never been more apparent, but only a conscious and comprehensive strategy will achieve this goal. Every idea that improves mental health will indirectly boost your bottom line. Here are five of the best solutions at your disposal.
Invest In Hygiene Facilities
Covid isn’t the only source of anxiety or the root of mental health conditions. However, it is currently the hottest talking point, especially with Omicron cases growing daily.
Improved hygiene facilities will instantly reassure employees in all workspaces, including; offices, factories, stores, and warehouses. As an employer, you must:
- Install sanitation stations in all reception areas.
- Ensure that all W/C facilities are kept clean, stocked, and in good health.
- Ensure that all employees have appropriate PPE products.
- Continue to use Perspex screens and other barriers where possible.
- Maintain strong cleaning practices throughout the working arena.
Upgraded hygiene facilities will protect physical wellness and remove a weight of anxiety from your employees’ shoulders.
Communicate To Allay Fears
Anxiety is very natural in these testing times. Employee retention rates are 4.5x higher for companies that communicate well. Increased happiness and mental stability play into this.
Employee fears are pretty understandable, but clear dialogue can provide mental reassurance. Some of the best solutions to promote mentally healthy teams include;
- Be clear about the precautions made and the company’s Covid protocols.
- Open a dialogue so that employees can advise you about their issues.
- Create a space for employees to step out of the action zone if anxiety surfaces.
- Hire a mental health expert or offer sessions to employees who need them.
- Offer a daily update or memo to keep all employees in the know.
Arranging safe team bonding sessions can be a great way to restore mental health and a positive atmosphere across the company too.
Create A Less Stressed Setting
Approximately one in four workers admit to feeling stressed out by their general work setup. This is without accounting for the return to work. So, you need to build a stress-free setting.
After all, stress is the source of anxiety, depression, and a host of workplace mental health issues. You can reduce stress in your workplace through the following methods;
- Invest in the right tools and equipment for employees to work efficiently.
- Encourage employees to speak up about any issues they face.
- Look out for signs of workplace bullying and stamp it out.
- Create working environments blessed with natural light and bright colours.
- Set boundaries so that people can switch off from work outside of their shifts.
A positive work-life balance can have a telling influence on the overall atmosphere. Conversely, if employees fear going to work, it will show.
Be More Versatile
All businesses have been forced to embrace flexible working in recent times. Over 87% of workers now work flexibly or state that they want to. These are the opportune moments.
Embracing the concept of flexible working can boost staff happiness and productivity while also improving health and safety. You can achieve this by;
- Allowing employees to continue WFH and hybrid working setups.
- Consider letting employees use their own devices to reduce germ spreading.
- Consider opening workspaces for longer and having fewer workers at any given time.
- Hold mental health days within the workplace.
- Support on-site workforces with outsourced services.
- Let workers take a more autonomous approach.
When employees feel in control of their working situations, they will be less likely to experience anxiety and other mental health issues. Perfect.
Appreciate Physical Health
The close connection between physical and mental health is clear. So, promoting increased physical wellness can help combat many mental health problems.
An added focus on physical health won’t necessarily entice employees back to work, but it helps them stay mentally healthy once they are back in this environment. Steps include;
- Operate a cycle to work scheme or offer perks like free gym membership.
- Install a water cooler as hydration promotes improved mental performance.
- Encourage workers to take regular screen breaks.
- Allow for short exercise and snack breaks during the day.
- Invest in stand up desks and/or ergonomic chairs.
Experts suggest that the average worker is productive for less than three hours in an eight-hour shift. Losing a few minutes through these tasks can aid the overall effort.
A Few Final Thoughts on Promoting Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace
Mental illness manifests itself in many different ways, from eating disorders to anxiety and many more in between. For some, these conditions were exacerbated by the pandemic, now the thought of returning to the office is making them worse still.
Pre-pandemic, employees with mental health issues were often reluctant to discuss them with their line managers due to the stigma attached and fear of losing their jobs. For many, returning to the office is what’s driving ‘the great resignation’.
Indeed, many would rather resign than return to their previous jobs. Therefore, if employers want to retain existing employees and make themselves attractive to new applicants, they must include mental health in their recruitment strategy.