Controlling mental health at work is an integral component of maintaining an efficient, healthy work environment. From accommodating reasonable accommodations and supportive relationships with supervisors to setting clear expectations around workloads and workload management – these measures can assist employees who are experiencing burnout.
Some strategies involve as simple an action as providing a designated quiet space for relaxation activities; others may include providing access to confidential online counseling services.
1. Create a Safe Space
Although digital media publications have provided ample coverage of mental health in recent months, many workplaces remain reluctant to openly discuss it. Employees may fear giving the impression of feeling overwhelmed or incapable of meeting job responsibilities, while supervisors worry that saying or doing the wrong thing will create an HR issue.
Create a safe workspace can be as straightforward or complex as hosting seminars and workshops that address stress, mental illness and the resources available for help employees needing it. Simple approaches may involve hosting seminars or workshops on these subjects while offering resources. However, more complicated approaches include making sure employees feel at ease to discuss personal struggles among themselves or offering quiet zones or zen rooms during breaks for recharge and relaxation during work breaks.
Other initiatives may include providing resources like self-assessment tools and support programs, training managers to recognize signs of employee distress and offering flexible working options that improve morale and productivity. But no matter how many ping-pong tables or soda fountains there may be in an office setting, nothing can replace emotional and social support from family, friends, and mental health professionals.
2. Promote Mental Health Days
Mental health days provide employees with a limited period of time off work specifically designated to revitalize and recharge their mind, body and spirit. Unlike sick or vacation days, these mental health days don’t need advance approval and typically do not count against an employee’s annual leave or sick entitlements.
Mental health days provide employees with an opportunity to recharge and refocus, reduce stress and burnout, increase morale and attitude, prevent mental illness crisis and boost productivity. Therefore, it’s essential that employees utilize their mental health days while taking regular time off work so that a healthy work-life balance can be maintained.
Encourage your team to set goals for their mental health days, whether that means sleeping until noon, eating healthy or spending the day at the beach – whatever their goal might be! Setting these goals will allow them to feel accomplished when returning back to work refreshed and renewed. It is also important that meals don’t go missing on these mental health days as this can actually increase stress.
3. Encourage Employees to Talk to Their Supervisors
Robin Williams’ death and many celebrities who have discussed openly their depression or other psychiatric issues has helped dismantle negative stereotypes surrounding mental illness, yet stigma still looms large among employees who require help, with some fearing they will be treated differently by supervisors or colleagues if assistance is sought.
Managers, as a primary contact for their employees, should receive training on how to discuss mental health with employees who appear distressed. Companies should ensure managers and teams are informed about services such as employee assistance programs that could potentially assist.
Promotion of these resources should also occur throughout the year through newsletters and other communications, not only during open enrollment. Employers should offer flexibility in work schedules to enable employees to take time off for mental health concerns without fear of reprisals; this shows employees their company cares.
4. Encourage Employees to Take Time Off
Employees who feel worn-down often don’t take the necessary time off work to rejuvenate and recharge. A lack of vacation and sick leave, coupled with feeling they must not let their team down can contribute to an increase in stress levels as well as mental health conditions like depression.
An outstanding workplace recognizes the potential risks of stress and burnout for its employees, so they strive to foster an atmosphere where employees feel free to discuss their emotions openly. They may provide workshops about understanding depression or other mental illnesses as well as wellness lunches or maintain a “Zen room” where staffers can relax.
Managers play an instrumental role in creating an environment conducive to mental wellness at work. By listening and supporting their teams, managers demonstrate that taking time off for mental wellbeing is not only accepted but beneficial; this in turn leads to improved performance and engagement. Cultivating such an atmosphere may take effort but it pays off both personally and for the company as a whole.