The narrative surrounding workplace mental health and well-being is shifting – employee mental health and well-being is no longer being viewed as a benefit that’s “nice to have” but a priority that is essential to an organization’s success. The health of one employee affects the health of the entire organization – its productivity and bottom-line. This conversation has also never been more important as workers are experiencing and reporting stress at an all-time high following the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a report cited by the U.S. Surgeon General, 76% of respondents had at least one symptom of a mental health condition. This number has increased by almost 17% in just two years. Moreover, only 38% of employees who know about their organization’s mental health services feel comfortable using them.
However, 7 in 10 of these employees also reported that their employer is more concerned about their mental health and well-being than in years previous. So, this is your organization’s opportunity to be a part of this upward trend and narrative surrounding workplace mental health and well-being.
Keep reading for the 5 essentials for workplace mental health & well-being (that are applicable across all industries and sizes) so you can start prioritizing, building, and fostering both in your own organization.
The 5 Essentials for Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being
1. Protection from Harm – Employees need to feel safe and secure in the workplace, both physically as well as mentally and emotionally. The first step to creating a safe environment is to examine and eliminate workplace hazards, ensuring you are operating in accordance with workplace laws and best practices. You can then take this a step further in your organization by normalizing and supporting mental health. Communicate in a clear and frequent manner that mental health and well-being are priorities and provide supportive and preventative services for your employees.
2. Connection & Community – This ensures that employees feel socially supported and a sense of belonging in their organization. It is important that you create an inclusive culture that has no room for bias and discrimination, and encourages open communication for employees to express their authentic thoughts and needs. Workplace relationships between employees and with management should be built on mutual trust and respect. Nurture collaboration and teamwork by encouraging open discourse and providing the tools necessary for collaboration. Employees need to feel that they have authentic relationships and truly belong in their workplace.
3. Work-Life Harmony – Achieving work-life balance is a common struggle, but you can help your employees do as such by allowing for autonomy and flexibility. This includes making work schedules predictable and consistent, but also flexible, as well as giving employees more autonomy over how, when, and where they do their work. This can come in the form of remote or hybrid working arrangements as well as allowing employee input in regards to workload and deadlines. It is also important that employees feel their boundaries for work vs. personal time are being respected. Frequent and clear communication between the employee and manager here may be necessary as the wants and needs of the employee are balanced with those of the organization.
4. Mattering at Work – Employees need to know that they matter to their employer, so make sure you treat your employees with dignity and add meaning to their role in your organization. This includes providing the basic essentials to your employees such as a livable wage and other benefits that protect their mental and physical health. You can also build and foster a workplace that makes employees feel appreciated and recognized by involving them in bigger workplace decisions and connecting their individual role and projects to the larger mission of the organization. Employees need to be seen, heard, and feel like they are a part of something.
5. Opportunities for Growth – The last essential for workplace mental health and well-being is providing employees with growth opportunities through learning and accomplishments. Offer training and educational opportunities for career development as well as mentoring and coaching services for support. There should be a clear pathway to and opportunities for career advancement in your organization. This can include tools that support workers over time or educate them on the barriers that exist within the system – upwards mobility should be transparent and achievable if the right steps and actions are taken.
In the post-COVID-19 workplace, mental health and well-being have never been more important. Ensure you are prioritizing, building, and fostering these within your own organization through protection from harm, connection & community, work-life harmony, mattering at work, and opportunities for growth. Remember that an organization’s most valuable asset is its people and by focusing on their mental health and well-being, you are giving your employees the tools and resources they need to flourish. If you need additional support on reinvesting in your workforce’s mental health and well-being, Premier HR Solutions is here for you and your small to medium-sized business. Click the link below to learn more about our Customized Training Workshops.