Your workers are stressed.
You might not see it, but they are.
Over the last few years, they’ve had to deal with everything from a global pandemic to social unrest. Add that to things like climate change and political discord, and most people are doing whatever they can just to get through the day. On top of that, workplace stress is high.
According to the American Institute of Stress, 83% of U.S. employees have work-related stress. Not only can that decrease productivity, but it also creates a negative environment in the workplace, and could end up harming your business. More importantly, it could end up causing a lot of distress to your employees and their personal lives.
So, what can you do to boost employee mental health? How can you step up and offer little ways to ease that burden? Let’s cover a few ideas that will go a long way.
1. Offer Flexibility
We have officially become a remote work society. No, not everyone works from home. However, remote work has been on the rise for years, and the pandemic caused it to skyrocket. At the time, it was out of necessity. However, employers and employees alike have started to see some of the benefits.
If you’re not able to let all of your employees work from home, offer more flexibility. Work-life balance is crucial to everyone’s mental well-being. Give them flexible hours, time off when they need it, and encourage a better balance in their lives.
2. Check-In Regularly
One of the best things you can do to boost your employees’ mental health is to check in.
Even if they aren’t showing outward signs of stress, simply asking how they’re doing can cause them to breathe a sigh of relief. Sometimes, all someone needs is a person to talk to. If you show that you care and have an interest in their mental well-being, you’ll create a more open environment where people aren’t afraid to speak up about their mental health needs.
3. Address Workplace Stress
If you’re worried your employees are stressed, try getting to the root cause. Workplace stress is often caused by things like:
- Long hours
- A heavy workload
- Conflicts with bosses or co-workers
- Job insecurity
Whether you talk to your employees in person or survey them, discovering what’s causing their stress will make it easier to take active steps toward fixing it. You’ll also get a clear picture of whether you’re contributing to that stress. It’s not always easy to see how your actions could be doing more harm than good. However, it gives you the opportunity to make positive changes.
4. Have Open Conversations About Mental Health
We already touched on the importance of talking about mental health in the workplace. However, not everyone is comfortable opening up. They might have had negative experiences in the past. Or, they might be worried about speaking up and how it could impact their job.
As a leader, it’s essential to set an example for your employees. Encourage them to speak up by sharing your own emotions and feelings. Be an active listener and practice empathy. By setting that example, you’ll create a positive environment where everyone can speak freely about how they’re feeling.
5. Model Self-Care
Speaking of setting examples, don’t just talk about the importance of mental health. Show your employees how essential it is to take care of themselves.
Not only is setting an example important but practicing self-care can actually benefit you in your leadership position. You’ve got a lot of pressure on your shoulders, and taking care of yourself will actually end up making you a better supervisor or manager. You’ll have more energy, improved focus, and you’ll be less stressed.
Self-care looks different for everyone, so find what works for you and grab moments of relaxation every day.
6. Encourage Your Company to Provide Employee Assistance Programs (EPAs)
Employee Assistance Programs (EPAs) can go a long way in alleviating the stress levels of your workers. These work-based programs can offer things like
- Free mental health assessments
- Short-term counseling
- Follow-up services
Offering these programs is a great way to show your employees you’re invested in their mental well-being. If anyone needs help, even on a short-term basis, an EPA can offer it and help them find long-term solutions. You might initially think of an EPA as something to boost the work environment, but you could end up saving certain employees from serious mental health issues that they wouldn’t have addressed otherwise.
7. Set Up a Quiet Space
Every employee takes breaks throughout the day (and you should encourage more frequent ones!). However, it’s not uncommon for people to check emails or scroll through their phones on those breaks.
While there’s nothing wrong with that, especially if they’re checking in with friends and family, it’s a good idea to have a quiet space in your office that employees can use for meditation, mindfulness, or just to have some reflective time to decompress.
Even if your employees don’t have prior meditation experience, they can reap the benefits of relaxation and a clearer mind by practicing deep breathing or using a guided meditation app to help them get rid of stressful, negative thoughts.
A few minutes of relaxation and mindfulness can go a long way, and your workers will come back feeling more refreshed and focused.
8. Make Mental and Physical Well-Being a Part of Company Culture
Separately, the ideas listed above are great ways to show your employees you care and to encourage mental wellness throughout the workplace.
However, the best thing you can do for yourself, your business, and your employees is to combine them. Create a company culture centered on mental and physical well-being. That could include offering healthy snacks and plenty of water to your employees throughout the day so they stay properly hydrated and focused. Or, consider investing in an office gym. Change the layout of your workplace to a more open setting so people can connect and collaborate.
The possibilities are endless, so don’t be afraid to get creative and ask your employees what they really want. By making an effort to boost employee mental health, everyone wins, and your business will gain a reputation that will make the best hires want to work for you.
By Indiana Lee, BOSS contributor