Last week’s blog discussed why employers should support their employees’ mental health. As a reminder, the pandemic has made mental health of even greater relevancy. Over 40% of Americans report increases in mental distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to reporting from the CDC. The CDC also stated that young adults are among the groups who reported having experienced disproportionately worse mental health outcomes, increased substance use, and elevated suicidal ideation.
85% of workers report the workplace itself affects their mental health and wellbeing. The workplace can easily become a cause for stress and mental health issues, but this also means that the workplace has the unique opportunity to be a place of support for employees’ mental health. Mental health in the workplace often spreads, especially from managers to subordinates. As social creatures, humans instinctively pick up and attune to the emotional states of those around them. This also means, that good work culture and a supportive environment can quickly spread to employees and improve their mental state.
How can you support your employees’ mental health and wellbeing? Here are five ways:
1: Train Managers to Recognize Mental Health Needs
Employees need more than a “mental health” training seminar, what most want is help knowing where to go and what resources are available to them. Managers are the perfect resource for this since they have the opportunity to connect one-on-one with employees. Train your managers on the signs of depression, anxiety, and other common mental health conditions so they can recognize them if employees begin exhibiting symptoms. Equip your managers with training and resources on how to intervene in the appropriate way and offer support to the employee.
Easy steps for managers to take can include:
- Listening without judgement
- Allowing an employee to sign off for a mental health day
- Giving more time on a project
- A referral to a professional
2: Encourage Openness to Reduce Stigma
Be open about conversations about mental health or well-being. This can be simple and non-invasive. By allowing honesty and openness, employees will have more freedom to admit when they feel overwhelmed, upset, or anxious. This allows managers to be more able to meet the needs of their team members and offer support where it is needed. An honest environment also boosts team comradery and offers employees the opportunity to support each other as well.
3: Promote Healthy Work Culture
Celebrating your employees’ healthy self-care habits can go a long way! Encourage them to take a few minutes to step away from a project, take a walk, take time off, have a work-life balance, and more. Tell your employees often that you value their mental health and well-being just as much as their productivity, so they don’t feel that they have to sacrifice their mental health for performance.
4: Model Healthy Behaviors
You can do more than just stating that you support mental health, model it! By showing that you prioritize your own self-care and boundaries will give your employees the freedom to feel that they can also prioritize their self-care and boundaries. When you stop prioritizing your own mental wellbeing, your employees notice and assume that is the expectation. Show your employees that you are willing to take a walk in the middle of the day, take off for a therapy appointment, take time off (and actually turn off email), and more. Set the example so others can follow.
5: Build Communication with Frequent Check-ins
Even before the pandemic, one-on-one check-ins with direct reports was important, but now it is all the more vital to the health of the workplace. Harvard did a study with Qualtrics and SAP, which showed that nearly 40% of global employees said that no one at their company had asked them if they were doing OK — and those respondents were 38% more likely than others to say that their mental health had declined since the outbreak.
Tips for checking in:
- Instead of stopping at a “how are you,” ask specific questions about what the employee needs to feel supported.
- Listen well and encourage questions and allow them to voice concerns
- Wait for full answers and don’t cut them off
- Make them feel heard and offer compassion
- Demonstrate that you trust and value their opinion
Have you implemented any of these strategies? Let us know in the comments!
Stay tuned for the next two blog posts to learn how your retail store can support the mental health of students!