Why Nurturing Mental Health at Work Is a Success Driver
In recent years, the importance of mental health has been talked about more and more, and a focus on mental health care has become far more widespread.
Now think about it – a lot of our stress comes from work. Whether it’s a big meeting coming up, training a new starter, meeting targets, or finding new ways to perform your role in an agile and effective way, our professional lives come bound up with a lot of stress and worry.
But how can focusing on mental health in the workplace lead to greater professional success?
Why is nurturing mental health at work important?
When faced with difficult situations or setbacks, resilience is what can help you to respond positively, see the silver linings, and move forward with confidence. However, it is far more difficult to be resilient without a strong basis of good mental health.
Nurturing mental health in the workplace enables your team to act with resilience when issues arise and when difficulty strikes. Instead of crumbling under pressure, resilient workers are able to act confidently to overcome issues.
And the further up the corporate ladder you go, the more important resilience becomes. So not only is resilience crucial to working well, but it is crucial to personal development too.
Prioritizing Openness & Communication
Talking openly about mental health can include being upfront about mental health struggles you may be facing and creating a relationship built on mutual trust. Once trust is established, workplaces can benefit from a more open environment and working culture.
This openness is key to a well-functioning workplace and will become extremely valuable in other areas of professional life. Being open about what you’re working on - timelines, expectations, and stresses - means that those you work with can assist when necessary and can pick up slack when things get tough.
An open line of communication between colleagues who work closely together can only streamline professional operations. Not only this, but having a closer relationship encourages empathy between colleagues, enables you to notice when somebody seems different, and empowers you to check on their mental health.
To put it simply, happy employees are better employees.
13% more productive, to be exact. In recent years, it has been categorically shown that the mental health of employees has a direct impact on their productivity and strength at work. So, if happiness has a direct effect on productivity, then nurturing a culture of mental health awareness and care in the workplace is a great way to boost productivity, all while taking good care of your team.
It is clear that poor mental health and workplace stress is a direct inhibitor of productivity and progress. By making a concerted effort to nurture good mental health in your employees, you can be sure that they will perform more strongly at work. When you’re happier in a job, you are far more likely to do the job well.
In most jobs, stress is inevitable. The key to sturdy mental health is not learning how to avoid stress but learning how to manage it.
Around one in five people said that they had called in sick to avoid workplace stress, and a staggering 42% agreed that they had considered resigning due to workplace stress. So even though stress is an unavoidable part of our working lives, it can pose a very real problem to our mental health.
A key tenet of a positive mental health culture at work is helping staff to manage their stresses so that they don’t become overwhelming and so stress doesn’t become an ongoing mental health issue.
Mental health problems like depression and anxiety are often characterized by feelings of extreme and persistent stress, so managing your workplace stress in a healthy way is vitally important.
How can you nurture mental health in the workplace?
Every workplace is different, and so it is natural that every workplace will benefit from different initiatives when it comes to employee mental health. Whatever initiatives you decide to take forward, the core tenets should always be empathy, nurturing, and personal development.
From commuting headaches to professional politics in the break room, there are a myriad of stresses that come from strict in-person work.
Offering flexibility, like flexi-hours or remote working, can be a great way to meet your employees halfway and ensure that they have the freedom to work when it works best for them. An enhanced work/life balance can promote good mental health, and flexibility is a particularly easy way to improve that relationship between mental health and work.
Whether it’s the renewed ability to collect their children from school or the freedom to take a walk on a meeting-free afternoon, there are plenty of ways in which flexibility can improve mental health.
Remember that culture of trust we mentioned before? This trust will be immediately broken as soon as employees notice that you aren’t being transparent when it comes to company-wide decisions.
This could be playing down business profits so that staff are less emboldened to ask for pay-rises, or it could be hypocritical behavior from upper-management.
Whatever it is – honesty is the best policy. Workers are far more likely to be open with colleagues about their mental health in an environment they perceive to be safe, and trust is key to this feeling of safety.
Offer mental health support
It can be as simple as directly offering mental health support to your employees. Mental health support can be supportive and informational resources, professional mental health care, personal mental health, and self-care training sessions, or wellbeing coaching.
If you already invest in healthcare as part of your employee offering, make sure to include mental health care as a part of this. Social support is hugely important for nurturing mental health, but professional assistance, support, and feedback can be far more successful in many cases.
Once you have secured mental health support as a feature of healthcare offered to employees, you need to make sure that all staff know that this is on offer – it’s no good offering support and not letting staff know that it’s available.
Evaluate diversity & inclusion policies
Our mental health is inextricably linked to our personal experiences, which means that different social groups will experience mental health and mental health issues quite differently.
A sense of belonging in the workplace can be absolutely crucial in sustaining and improving employee mental health, so ensuring that people from all walks of life feel welcomed into your company will boost mental health, as well as fostering a more diverse working environment.
Investigating how well your organization is promoting and honoring diversity can help you to uncover hidden biases, unforeseen difficulties, and areas for improvement.
If this is a daunting task, why not explore EZRA’s Diversity & Inclusion coaching offering? With bespoke programs to help your company become more self-aware and inclusive, EZRA’s Diversity & Inclusion coaching is a great way to begin nurturing mental health in the workplace.