Mental Health has become a hot topic in all areas of life as people break the stigma and stereotypes previously set. Still, discussing mental health at work continues to hold the danger of getting branded as “UNFIT” for employment. The pandemic has played a big role in normalizing mental health at work and in other aspects of life. People find it easier to come out with their issues and speak up about the effects of being stressed. It is very important to understand that talking aloud about one’s struggles is not a bad thing; rather, it is the first step towards recovery and a brighter future.
Recently, several major celebrities have cited mental health issues being the barrier to excellent performance. This has decreased the stigma surrounding mental health and has started conversations around the world about how to help people navigate the slippery slopes surrounding wellness.
First of all, employers must understand that employees do have a life outside the workplace. There may be things and situations impacting them mentally, and those things are likely affecting their work. Rather than shouting at these folks for lack of productivity and results, managers should pull those people aside and ask what is wrong, encouraging them to speak about it. Some may be waiting for someone to ask the question to break the unhealthy cycle of breakdowns. Especially now, employees are returning to their offices after a pandemic, and this has heightened the negative emotions in their lives like uncertainty, anxiety, stress, and fatigue.
A company is collectively formed by its employees. A strong workforce is the backbone of any successful company, and organizations can constructively help the employees with learning practices to gain and maintain positive mental health and to be the support system to help overcome issues.
Here are some techniques employers can adopt at their workplaces to help their employees have better mental health:
Enforce Healthy Work Culture
A healthy and comfortable work culture is a much-needed base for a healthy workforce. It is important to maintain a strong work-life balance. Though companies have strongly implemented changes in work schedules, like allowing work from home, there are still many steps they can take to ensure healthy work culture by creating guidelines that take care of employees’ mental health, like:
- Self-care: It’s important to encourage and allow employees to take breaks from work. Companies can include meditation areas, healthy food in the cafeteria, or a games rooms at the office. Remember, you need a strong workforce for a strong company.
- Consider tone: Team leads need to bring in a personal touch in their emails and communications made to the employees. A kind tone in emails and conversations may reassure them that you are there to care.
- Communication is key: Make sure you keep in touch with your employees physically or virtually. Ask them how they are coping at work and in their personal life. These conversations may help your team members to realize they have someone to talk to about any struggles they have. In my experience, I have a wonderful mentor here at CloudQ who cares and is concerned about my wellbeing as well as my progress at work. My reporting manager keeps tabs on our well-being and ensures we have enough time to complete our work without being overly stressed.
- Reasonable flexibility: Always know that the employees have a life outside the office and need those hours to be free. They may face family issues, health issues, anxiety, etc. If the reasons are genuine, offer them help at work, extend deadlines, and assure them you can be their support system.
Encourage Team Support
Your office and team are your second family. Team members spend a lot of time with each other, and they can understand what the other person is going through. Encourage team support at work. If one of them is finding it stressful and difficult to finish something, help them out in tackling the issues. Show them you are there to back them. Team leads could encourage group exercises and activities to build team bonding. A stronger team will always ensure the successful completion of tasks. If the employee is facing any mistreatment in the workplace, encourage them to report it to the appropriate department, like HR. Workplace harassment and abuse may also cause mental health issues, and those items need to be addressed immediately.
In a work-from-home situation, organize fun team meetings to chat with each other about life outside work, play virtual games together, use informal message boards to connect informally, create book clubs, etc.
Learn About Signs of Mental Health Struggles
The most high-performing employee may also suffer mental health issues like anxiety, stress, and/or breakdowns, which go unnoticed. Team leads need to constantly monitor their team members to ensure they are healthy and in a good state of mind. For this, they need to learn to recognize signs of mental health struggles to help the employee. Here are the few signs you may look out for:
- Work Habits: Find out if the employee has a sudden change in their productivity, focus, and/or delay in submission of work.
- Overall Demeanor: If the personality of the employee changes suddenly, be sure to take note. A person who is well behaved may suddenly be irritable, nervous, restless, etc. These may be signs of struggle.
- Increase in Number of Leaves: The employees may be taking an unusual number of leaves.
- Social Withdrawal: If an employee who is normally very social shows signs of social withdrawal, ensure to have a chat with them about their health and wellbeing.
How to Overcome Stress, Anxiety, Depression, etc.
Once you discover the employee has some issues to sort out, encourage them to practice coping techniques and get help to overcome the issues. Here are some pointers:
- Exercise regularly
- Make time for hobbies
- Eat well
- Get enough sleep
- Connect with a support system
- Spend time with family
- Practice breathing techniques
- Go for walks
- Identify triggers that cause anxiety and stress
- Write down your struggles
- Keep in touch with your support system
- Prioritize face-time
- Go for therapy
- Accept help and support from friends, family, and colleagues
- Join a support group
- Talk to your team lead if any issues at work
Every employer needs to ensure that their employees have a healthy workplace to go to and enjoy a stress-free and safe work culture. We hope these tips help a little, and remember, if you’re struggling with mental health, there are resources available to help you. Reach out to your HR department and ask.