Mental health concerns don’t wait for the weekend. If left unaddressed, these issues can disrupt work performance.
As an employer, step into the shoes of your employees. How well do you work when you’re distressed?
Every employee copes differently. Some manage better than others and can meet deadlines despite obstacles. However, many buckle under the pressure, which is evidenced by increasing rates of work depression.
What can you do as an employer to assist employees and meet your business goals?
When done right, addressing mental health can actually improve productivity tenfold. This outcome results in more sales, employee satisfaction, and innovation.
Here are several ways to address employee mental health productively.
Empathy and Leadership
Company leaders are strong, direct, and results-driven. However, these qualities don’t imply a lack of empathy for mental health. Empathy is a cornerstone of effective leadership.
Empathetic leaders listen to employees’ ideas, suggestions, and concerns. They develop tools and processes that meet employees’ needs while improving productivity.
For example, an empathetic leader would conduct an employee happiness survey after a decline in productivity.
Sample questions include:
- Which tools or processes could help you in your role?
- Which processes could be improved?
- Are you facing any roadblocks in your role?
- How could company leadership better assist?
By anonymizing the survey, employees are free to express themselves honestly. They may feel more comfortable talking about mental health concerns. Honest feedback is essential for improving performance.
Empathetic leaders approach discipline differently. Of course, disciplinary action depends on the gravity of the problem.
For example, if you notice a sharp dip in performance, take an educational approach. Require underperforming employees to take a refresher course. This disciplinary technique instills confidence in employees who may not feel secure in their roles.
Empathetic methods decrease stress, work depression, and low morale in the workplace. However, it’s crucial to remain authoritative as a leader. Progress must follow; otherwise, production will dip.
Consider a New Office Layout
Take a look around your office. Are you left uninspired? Your employees likely feel the same way.
The wrong office design can impact mental health. For example, studies show that poor lighting can affect employees’ mental health.
Open-office layouts address this problem in several ways.
For one, this office design allows natural sunlight to flood through the space. Natural light is ideal. The more windows and clear partitions, the better.
Open layouts are less isolating.
Alienated employees are more depressed and less productive. You can change this by getting rid of dark, dreary cubicles. Unfortunately, those buzzing fluorescent lights aren’t helping, either.
Open designs inspire connection, another asset for isolated employees. Departments aren’t separated. Employees are more comfortable engaging and collaborating with one another.
These benefits have a direct impact on work depression rates, productivity, sales, and employee retention.
Two more options to consider are remote work and coworking spaces. These function as office alternatives since work is performed away from the office.
Remote work may be a better option for employees who struggle with mental health. For example, employees with anxiety may be more productive away from the stress of office politics. Some employees thrive better independently than in groups.
Identify roles that would benefit from a remote work model. Then, test out this approach by creating a few remote-only positions. If you see good results, incorporate them into your business model.
Remote work is also cost-effective since you don’t have to pay for extra resources, like office supplies, snacks, etc. However, you may want to supply remote employees with company equipment.
Decrease Stress with Coworking
Coworking spaces are another option.
Like remote work, coworking spaces let employees work away from the office. However, these spaces are less isolating than home offices.
Coworking is an excellent idea if you have several remote employees. If some live in the same area, they can work together at a coworking office. Many companies also pay monthly for coworking spaces.
Revamp Your Employee Breakroom
Do your employees have a separate space to decompress?
Breakrooms play a critical role in workplace wellness. Unfortunately, a lackluster breakroom can create more problems than it solves.
If your breakroom is too tiny, multiple employees can’t relax as well. You also need adequate room for comfy sofas and chairs.
Now that you have a larger breakroom let’s tackle the food situation.
Lunch breaks are significant to employees’ mental health. Your team needs proper nourishment to perform at their best,
Include a refrigerator in the breakroom. A fridge encourages employees to bring lunches to work. Employees can keep their fruits, veggies, beverages, and frozen items fresh.
Encourage employees to bring a healthy lunch to work. They’ll spend less money on eating out. This little tip can go a long way in improving mental health.
What if an employee forgets to bring a lunch or money for food?
Prepare for these situations with complimentary snacks, water, and fruit. Keep healthy snacks on hand to boost nourishment, focus, and productivity in your employees.
Use Color Theory to Uplift Mood
Think about the color of your breakroom. Does it inspire relaxation or agitation?
Color theory exists for a reason. Color has a direct impact on mood. For example, McDonald’s chose red and yellow as brand colors because those colors inspire hunger.
Your breakroom would benefit from soft purples and dark greens because those shades inspire relaxation.
Now, apply color theory to the rest of the workplace.
Is your drab beige conference room sucking the life out of your employees? Inspire innovation with a soft, optimistic yellow. Green also inspires focus and creativity.
This issue is another reason why open layouts work well. Windows and clear dividers create inspiring views. These layouts leverage blue skies, clouds, and relaxing green trees.
Wood tones also work. Instead, strip away old paint and restore natural wood panels. You can also install brand new panels to create a rustic, inspiring look.
Think about the vibe you want to create in your office. Choose colors and textures that facilitate your vision.
Extend this knowledge to your remote work team. Suggest ways they can revamp their home offices to improve mental health.
Invest in Teambuilding Activities
Remember the earlier point about isolation? Open office layouts only address part of the problem.
The following issues also cause employee alienation:
- Workplace bullying
- Introversion at work
- Office favoritism
- Lack of connection with coworkers
- Lack of direction from leadership
- Strained managerial relationships
- Impersonal communication
- Office cliques
Employees come with different personality types, values, and communication styles. The above issues are common to all social groups. However, employers can do a lot to mitigate harmful sociological elements.
For example, a zero-tolerance bullying policy will nip that problem in the bud. Leaders must communicate that all employees are treated with the same level of respect. These policies can prevent toxic work cliques from developing.
You can feel it when tension is in the air. As an employer, that’s your cue to do something about it. Teambuilding activities are a great way to diffuse tension and bring employees together.
Alienated employees may find that they have more in common with other employees. Likewise, clique-prone employees may start to understand isolated employees more. Retreats let both parties drop their preconceived notions.
Teambuilding retreats should be fun and lighthearted.
Come prepared with the following:
- Fun icebreaker games
- trust exercises
- Yummy refreshments
- Company swag
- Party supplies
Choose a location with lots of space, like a state park or camping area. Outdoor retreats get your employees exercising, directly benefiting mental health.
Welcome New Employees
Teambuilding brings up an important point. Team bonding matters. As an employer, you can foster cohesion from the start, decreasing employee alienation.
Start with your onboarding process. Are you just throwing employees to the sharks? This method produces toxic stress in the workplace.
Furthermore, you waste more resources since employees don’t feel prepared.
Welcome new employees through a personalized onboarding process. Great onboarding makes employees feel valued from the start. Even saying “Welcome to the family!” can go a long way.
Here are more onboarding tips that improve mental health in the workplace:
- New employee orientation parties
- Orientation swag (mugs, t-shirts, supplies, etc.)
- Digitized manuals for everything
- Employee dashboards that show performance
- Motivational materials
- Ergonomic tips and tools for remote workers
- Q&A sessions
Employees want to feel like they’re a part of something great. And you want employees who take ownership in their roles. It’s a win-win!
If you have a lot of employees, good onboarding can slip through the cracks. WorkBright.com illustrates how onboarding management improves processes, which boosts new employee performance.
Rethink Your Workflow
Are your work processes creating more stress and less productivity?
More companies are switching to agile workflows. Agile project management increases feedback, collaboration, and timely delivery. This process is great for roles that slip through the cracks.
Burnout is another culprit behind work stress and depression.
Agile workflow is one way to prevent burnout. You can also mitigate this problem by delegating duties effectively. When an employee is stuck with all the work, that’s a recipe for burnout.
Burnout increases the risk of human error, conflicts, and employee turnover.
Time management is another factor behind burnout. For example, an employee may work themselves too hard one week and slack off the next. Time blocking is one way to prevent burnout and stay on task.
Remember, all employees are unique. Conduct another employee survey that hones in on workflow issues. You may discover interdepartmental issues that are affecting workflow.
Implement an Open-Door Policy
Open-door policies are another hallmark of empathetic leadership. Essentially, an “open door” policy encourages employees to talk to their managers. Likewise, it enables leaders to listen.
If employees don’t feel comfortable around you, they’re less likely to discuss problems affecting their role. They may be less likely to talk about workplace bullying, burnout, and workflow issues.
Open-door policies signal to employees that it’s okay to talk about these issues. Furthermore, these policies prevent workplace conflicts from brewing.
While open-door policies are preferred, they can be a lot for one leader to handle. As your company expands, invest in HR professionals trained in workplace mental health. It also helps to have an onsite psychologist who can counsel employees.
Some careers are more high-stress than others, like software engineering, dentistry, law enforcement, and medical professions. Onsite counseling is vital for managing work depression, PTSD, stress, and burnout.
Distribute Mental Health Resources
Open-door policies bring up another important point: employers can help by simply distributing mental health information.
Think about the workday itself:
- Your employees wake up
- Spend eight hours at the office
- Spend more time on transportation
- Briefly unwind at home
There isn’t much time in the day to work on mental health. Oftentimes, employees just don’t know where to start.
You can help by communicating the following mental health tips:
- Ways to avoid burnout
- Tips for conquering work depression
- Local mental health resources
- Alternative work methods
- Nutrition advice
You could hire an expert to talk to your employees about managing stress. This project is ideal for your HR department.
Physical wellness is essential to mental health.
You could distribute yoga coupons, gift certificates, and free courses. Again, these gestures show employees you care about their well-being, even when they’re off the clock.
More Wellness Tips to Boost Mood
More companies are investing in wellness programs because the results speak for themselves.
For example, exercise boosts focus. That’s why more companies are installing real gyms inside office buildings.
The same work philosophy applies to nutrition. Since healthy food improves performance, more companies are opening onsite cafeterias.
Start Improving Workplace Mental Health
How can you improve employee mental health? Could you benefit from an open layout or a fresh coat of paint?
Refer to this guide as you reimagine your workplace. It’s time to uplift the mood and boost productivity.
Check out the blog to discover more topics for busy business owners.