A stunning 84% of employees report facing at least one workplace factor that negatively impacts their mental health. This finding applies to employees at all organizational levels, from the C-suite, to entry-level, to every role in between.
Leaders have a unique opportunity when it comes to promoting mental health throughout their organizations. This article will share research findings and tips that leaders can use to build organizations that value mental health and provide support without stigma.
Companies that prioritize mental health in the workplace support not only the broader public good, but also their own bottom line. Studies show that employees who push themselves to work when they are sick or in pain are less likely to be engaged or motivated. In contrast, employees who feel supported in their mental health are less likely to miss work.
Senior leaders must consistently communicate through both actions and words that mental health is a company-wide priority. Here are five tips for creating a culture that encourages employees to openly and appropriately discuss mental health.
1) Appoint leaders to be responsible for mental health initiatives
Leaders from all levels of the organization must play a role in supporting mental health. Departmental leaders, for example, can be especially influential because they have direct interaction with their teams.
2) Conduct anti-stigma campaigns
Open and empathetic communication are two of the most powerful tools for reducing the stigma around mental health challenges. Leaders can start by incorporating mental health check-ins into one-on-one meetings.
3) Give employees the right tools
Educating employees about topics such as the signs of mental health challenges will empower them to help themselves as well as each other.
4) Raise awareness
Provide access to mental health resources and communicate about them through a range of channels. This can include granting paid time off for mental health or other personal reasons and rebranding “sick days” as “mental health days.”
5) Act as a role model by discussing mental health challenges
Leaders can create feelings of psychological safety around mental health issues by openly sharing their own experiences. Of course, such sharing must go hand in hand with clear organizational policies around protecting privacy and ensuring that performance evaluations will not be negatively impacted by such disclosures.
Given today’s turbulent business environment, it is no surprise that many employees face mental health challenges. For this reason, organizations must create a culture that prioritizes and supports mental health and well-being. Senior management can lead the way by helping to reduce the stigma around mental health issues, while other organizational leaders can provide support by using tools like employee check-ins and empathetic listening. Through education, awareness campaigns, role-modeling, and other initiatives, leaders can protect employees’ mental health and well-being both within the workplace and beyond.