Good employers know that their businesses are only as good as their people and that part of achieving that status is possessing a happy, healthy and productive workforce.
When employees feel motivated and supported, they will perform better, driven by confidence. This allows staff to perform to their potential and means the business will achieve its peak performance.
However underpinning any employee motivation is good mental health, and this begins in the workplace environment.
A negative workplace environment can have detrimental business implications, including lost work days, reduced productivity and higher recruitment costs when valued employees fail to be recognised, retained or adequately replaced.
In comparison, a mind healthy workplace has been shown to help increase efficiency and productivity, boost revenue and lower business costs, as well as reduce staff turnover through improved staff morale and higher levels of performance.
Here are six ways to see those benefits in action by supporting your staff and transforming your workplace to a productive environment.
1) Promote Employee Wellbeing
Encouraging employees to maintain a good work/life balance, implementing and supporting flexible working practices, and promoting positive working relationships and outside team social activities are important factors in looking after and promoting employee wellbeing.
Actively investing in and encouraging these approaches promotes clear messaging to employees that their mental health is valued by the organisation.
Effective, open management styles like these reduce employee uncertainty, prevent stress and unlock staff potential.
When employees feel their work is valued and meaningful, they will commit more thoroughly to the businesses goals. In addition, raising awareness and promoting good mental health practices overcomes prejudice and stigmas that could prevent employees from airing any problems, saving them from escalating.
2) Identify and resolve mental health causes
Large chunks of our day are spent at work, so it’s no surprise that mental health problems can begin there.
Unmanageable workloads, negative relationships, poor communication and managerial support as well as job insecurity and lone working can all be factors in escalating mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
Healthy workplace environments counteract this by outlining manager behaviours that empower employees to feel valued and supported in order to do their job to the best of their ability.
Appreciating employees’ efforts and contributions, offering clarity, avoiding unrealistic expectations and deadlines, treating people as individuals and ensuring work is organised effectively can relieve pressure and anxieties, boosting wellbeing.
3) Invest in Mental Health First Aid
Mental Health Awareness training and Mental Health First Aid are vital mental health training courses for employers that provide necessary skills and support for their workforces.
The courses help develop practical skills so that employees can identify triggers and warning signs of mental health issues, as well as provide in-depth understandings of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing.
They possess employees, colleagues and managers with interpersonal skills which allow for the confidence to approach, support and reassure a peer in distress and the knowledge to aid someone’s health further by guiding them to enhanced support.
By equipping a workforce with this training, colleagues will be more likely to discuss worries without fearing prejudice or judgement, allowing problems to be handled correctly and healthily and preventing negative outcomes like being signed off, or losing productivity.
4) Support staff with mental health issues
Staff who suffer from mental health issues commonly fear stigma, prejudice or retribution when approaching managers with their conditions.
In a mind healthy workplace, wellbeing is promoted through tackling the causes of mental health problems and through creating an open, collaborative environment where staff can feel confident to talk to their manager.
The first step in establishing this environment is to encourage honest and open communication with the employee, especially if staff take frequent time off for sickness based absences.
This nurtures trust between employees and managers, and also sends valuable messaging about your businesses values to investors, consumers and other external audiences.
Personal action plans that identify triggers and outline employee needs are also vital pieces of infrastructure that can aim to reduce the length of mental health related absences.
5) Enhance the natural environment
Workplaces that rely on artificial light and that don’t provide adequate access to windows or fresh air can also contribute to declining mental health.
Natural air and light are mood boosters, as are comfortable and spacious work stations. Investing in plants, whether real or artificial, also promotes connotations of nature and tranquility which can aid the look and feel of an office environment.
Some studies also suggest that if the office is not in an area where natural light or air are part of the office environment, employees should be encouraged to work outside in the summer months.
This boosts vitamin D, which has been shown to also raise happiness levels. In addition, the feeling of sunshine on skin is therapeutic, helping employees to release stress and retain their focus.
In addition, encouraging employees to take walks on their lunch hours or breaks boosts mental health through endorphins released during exercise which increase happiness levels.
6) Encourage team unity
Lone working can be a contributing factor in declining mental health. If employees feel they have no viable support network, and are unsure where to turn for advice conditions such as depression and anxiety could spiral.
Activities that incorporate team building and bonding help to forge relationships, which in turn makes for a more collaborative organisation.
Team building strengthens communication and solidifies bonds between existing team members, as well as providing opportunities for other departments and teams to communicate, providing collaboration across the board.
If employees have no opportunities to communicate or get to know one another, this can contribute to misinformation and lowered productivity through vital bonds failing to be forged.
A study from Officevibe discovered that up to 70% of employees say having, and making, friends at work is their most crucial element to enjoying their workday. For mental health, employees that have friends at work will be happier and also more likely to confide in those friends if they feel they are struggling.