On average, a person spends a third of their life at work. It’s essential employees feel comfortable, happy and productive at the workplace. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for many people.
The sad truth is, many employees are unhappy at work, and in most cases, their employers are unaware of it. Employers don’t maliciously intend to ignore this aspect of their employees. Rather, it’s due to a work culture which exists in many businesses with focus only being on the bottom line.
But as you can see here, when employees are not happy at the office, it ends up costing the company in more ways than one. When people feel depressed, suffer anxiety, or other mental health challenges, it can negatively affect their performance in the workplace. Therefore, it’s imperative for companies to promote mental health awareness.
Benefits of Promoting Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace
When employers support initiatives which promote the mental well-being of their employees, they:
1. Create a positive work environment and associations in the workplace
2. Ensure mental health issues are nipped in the bud or prevented
3. Boost employee productivity and enthusiasm for work
4. Reduce losses in the workplace such as theft, accidents, absences or missed production goals
5. Prevent unnecessary lawsuits and compensation claims from unhappy employees
Ways Employers can Create a Healthy Work Environment for their Employees
Happy employees can lead to happy customers who contribute to the success of the company. Conversely, unhappy employees can cause a company to lose valuable customers by providing substandard services or products. Here are a few tips employers can use to create a healthy work environment and keep their employees happy and productive.
1. Encourage Maximizing Productivity During Regular Work Hours
Some employees feel that staying at work late or sacrificing their free time to stay in the office makes them stand out in the eyes of their employers. However, such habits can eventually lead to mental fatigue and breakdowns. To help prevent such problems employers should:
- Discourage working after hours or during time off unless absolutely necessary and pay for overtime when necessary.
- Make it mandatory for employees to take holidays and use vacation time.
- Encourage employees to spend time with family by providing perks like paid maternity leave.
- Let employees have flexible work hours or allow them to work from home
2. Provide Opportunities for De-stressing
No matter what the source, constant or excessive stress can significantly contribute to mental health issues among employees. That’s why companies need to provide initiatives in the workplace for stress relief. For example, companies can:
- Provide an in-house gym where workers can exercise during their lunch break or after work or offer to pay for a gym membership
- Offer free stress relieving activities such as meditation or yoga at the office one or two days a week for mental and physical relaxation
- Create a break room or recreation area like game room where employees can go to relieve stress
3. Create an Office Layout that Supports Mental Health
The layout or design of an office space can positively or negatively affect how productive employees can be as well as influence how they feel. If you put a worker in a dark, cramped office space and require them to work there every day, productivity will eventually decline. Not to mention the negative impact such a work space can have on the mental health of your employee.
Employers should strive to create workspaces that encourage productivity and promote mental well-being among their staff. A few characteristics of an office space which promotes positive influences on employees are:
- Workspaces should be well aerated and provide access to a lot of natural light. The vitamin D employees get from the sun can positively impact an employee both physically and mentally
- Nature can elevate a person’s mood. Employers can put plants in an office space, or provide access to small gardens where employees can relax
- The colors used in the decor of the office can also affect employees’ moods. Colors like green help relieve stress because it is associated with nature.
4. Provide Access to Materials on Mental Health
Unbeknownst to most employers, there are many free resources available on mental health awareness which their workers can use to promote their mental well-being. For example:
- Organizations like Mental Health America and the American Psychiatrist Association provide free resources on mental health awareness
- Free mental health screening tests can also assist employees in identifying mental health issues and getting the help they need
- Employee engagement surveys can guide employers on how to place employees the right positions where they will be happy and productive
5. Provide Work Policies on Harassment
Workplace harassment is the cause of many mental health issues in the workplace. Unfortunately, word of mouth is not enough to keep people from harassing or abusing each other at work.
It’s imperative for employers to provide firm policies in the workplace that prohibit any form of harassment or discrimination amongst it’s employees. Professionals like employment lawyers NJ can help companies draft policies that will help stop employees from engaging in harassment and cost the business a lot of money in compensation claims. However, having the policy is not enough. The policy alone will not stop a person from harassing a co-worker. Enforcing the policy is the key to creating a safe and productive work environment for everyone. A policy without enforcement is just noise. Make sure everyone knows the steps needed to inform superiors of potential harassment, they will be taken seriously, kept safe, and most importantly, action will be taken.
6. Provide Opportunities for Growth
Many employers think the paycheck is the only motivation for employers. However, statistics say that most people want to enjoy what they do and experience growth in the workplace. When there is no growth potential, the work can get monotonous and employees lose morale leading to mental health issues.
To provide growth in the workplace, employers can:
- Give scholarships for employees to further their education or attend professional seminars
- Offer in-house work training
- Present accolades to excellent workers
- Provide mentorship programs
- Give regular reviews and promotions
7. Provide Employee Health Perks and Benefits
Another great way to boost morale in the workplace and cut down on stress is by providing perks and benefits. One way employers can do this is by giving excellent employees bonuses and gifts. When workers excel at their job and are rewarded, it increases morale and gives them a feeling of self-fulfillment as well as being appreciated. Great workers can be rewarded with a holiday for the family, vouchers to exclusive restaurants, gym memberships, etc.
Another benefit employers can give to their staff is with a Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAPs can help workers identify mental health issues and overcome them. Some examples of productive EAP’s to adapt in the workplace can be:
- Programs that help them workers deal with addiction like gambling or alcoholism
- Programs for promoting marital bliss to help them deal with problems at home
- Trauma counseling to deal with negative issues experienced at work such as the death of a co-worker
- Financial literacy programs to help them manage money wisely and avoid stress from financial problems
- Free online resources that can help employees and employers deal with mental health issues
So, What’s the Bottom Line?
The practice of companies putting into place initiatives which can help promote the healthy mental well-being of their workers is still under-utilized. Unfortunately, it’s because the focus of those businesses is more on increasing profit and cutting down on losses. Employers must realize a happy and well-balanced worker is directly related to giving them more profits and cut down on those unnecessary losses.
It’s imperative for those in charge of these companies to realize that their workers are more than just a cog in the machine. Their workers are human beings who are influenced by not only their environment but also by how they’re treated. The more businesses are willing to invest into their staff, the greater the correlation to job satisfaction, increased productivity and positive work environment. A huge component of which being the mental well-being of the employees.
Remember some of the actions that can be taken:
- Provide employees ways for improving mental health such as areas to relieve stress and mental health materials
- Give recognition and rewards like bonuses and perks to those who go above and beyond
- Keep employees safe with proper and enforced harassment policies
- Give employees the opportunity to grow with the company and increase their own professional skills
If you are an employer looking to help your workers be happier in the workplace, helping them with their mental health is the way to go. You might be surprised by the positive reaction you get from them.
Are you an employer who utilizes any of the tips in this article. Have you taken steps to address and promote positive mental health for your employees? Do you have any other ideas or tips you can share. We’d love to hear from you!