One of the major backlashes of COVID has been that many people are now struggling with their mental health. 42% of Canadians self-reported a change to their mental health since the onset of the pandemic.¹ We were all in forced isolation for two years, so coming out of that can be complex and anxiety-inducing. We are in an unprecedented situation, so while each employee does have personal ownership of their health, we also need to understand that many people are going through something that may be challenging and difficult.
It is no surprise that businesses worldwide are making it a top priority to provide employees with healthy environments to work in. As employers, it is our duty and responsibility to ensure that our employees feel safe and supported—both physically and psychologically, not only for their own and their team’s well-being but also for the growth and profitability of the business itself.
Well-being may mean different things to different people. Still, we should take an inclusive approach to well-being and overall health because all people are different, there is neurodiversity, we have different cultural backgrounds, and we are all at different points in our lives. Mental health and well-being are interlinked, and they impact our personal and professional lives in all sorts of ways.
A Productive Workplace is Mentally Well
When looking at the productivity of a workplace, one of the main contributing factors is how healthy and happy the employees are. Unhappy employees are more likely to take shortcuts at work and are less likely to form attachments with other employees, ultimately reducing the organization’s ability to retain talent.
It’s important to recognize potential workplace environmental factors that could be contributing to low employee morale:
- Unreasonable timelines: Ask your employees for feedback on their workload. Then, work together to come up with a solution. Maybe that means the deadline gets pushed back, or perhaps they need help prioritizing.
- Poor management: Offer management training. Not every manager is a natural leader. Historically, many people have been promoted because they perform their jobs well. But they can struggle in that new role. Improving the people skills of leaders has a positive effect on their team. When management works effectively with their subordinates, both the organization and people flourish.
- Inability to work effectively in teams: Encourage collaboration amongst your teams. The best way to deal with a problem is to face it head-on. Teamwork builds cohesiveness, spreads knowledge to all team members, and promotes a better sense of well-being.
Benefits of Supporting Mental Wellness at Work
No one lives in a bubble. People bring their personal issues to work, which can aggravate any workplace issues. This adds a layer of complication. Many people are not comfortable talking about their mental health at work, and that is completely fine. As business owners, though, it is best to approach every person as if they have something going on in their life that is causing them distress.
By approaching everyone empathetically, your staff will feel supported. This will lead to an increase in effectiveness and productivity and will result in employees being proud of where they work because it is a place that cares about them.
Well-being and mental health affect us everywhere. If your employees are feeling emotionally fatigued and overstressed, remind them to take a moment to think, be creative in their thought process, and breathe, or they won’t be effective at their job.
How to Boost Employee Well-Being and Morale
- Reward accomplishments: A recognition-rich work environment makes employees feel valued and emotionally connected to their job.
- Realize the importance of work-life balance: If you want your employees to feel their best (which will result in great work), remember to balance corporate needs with the personal needs of your employees. We all have lives outside of our jobs, and as such, flexibility will be seen as a positive step.
- Encourage staff to be active: Physical activity invigorates the mind, releasing endorphins and other feel-good chemicals. Create a fitness challenge for your team and encourage them to get moving.
- Promote employee collaboration: A recent survey done by Allsteel revealed that 45% of us feel most energized at work by our colleagues, so collaboration is a critical part of maintaining overall employee well-being.
- Listen to your employees (and trust their feedback): Ask how they are feeling about their workload and overall time spent at work, and then respond accordingly. Doing this will make them feel heard and cared about.
How to Destigmatize Mental Health Issues in the Workplace
One in five adults has a mental illness. That’s 20% of your workforce! With numbers that high, we must acknowledge the difficulties our staff are dealing with and find ways to help them cope, overcome, and succeed. There are several ways to monitor and address mental health at work, including the following:
- Gather feedback through an anonymous employee survey.
- Make it okay to take a mental health day.
- Leaders should talk about their struggles with mental health (if they feel comfortable doing so).
- Through actions and language, create an inclusive, supportive environment where everyone feels safe.
- Provide training focused on building awareness and reducing stigma about mental health.²
- Encourage self-care and work-life balance to reduce burnout, stress, and anxiety.
Why It’s Important to Destigmatize Mental Health
When mental illness is destigmatized, people are less likely to feel shame about their condition. This leads to earlier help-seeking, which generally results in a better prognosis. Further, as it becomes more common and accepted to discuss mental health issues at work, employees will share resources and be more likely to seek treatment. Destigmatizing mental health issues may also result in more people with mental health challenges reaching positions of power, with the outcome being that mental health becomes a company priority.³
Kindness and Support Makes a Difference
As an employee of Truspace, I can personally speak to the positive impact an organization can have on an employee’s mental wellness journey. During my routine performance conversation, my manager noticed a change in my personality and energy level and gently asked how I was doing. Feeling safe and supported, I confided that I was struggling with depression and the feeling of not being good enough. We spent time talking in which she also confided that she has struggled with mental illness her entire career and was able to provide insight and resources I could use to seek help.
With the help of my workplace, family, and doctor, I have been able to step out of the haze of depression and once again find joy in life. I am thankful to work for this company, and I encourage you to develop a nurturing environment at your organization. Mental health is a serious concern for millions of people in workplaces worldwide. A willingness to see and hear that people have challenges will help you build a better and more productive environment for your employees.
To learn more on this topic, see the following reference materials we used in creating this article:
1. Mental health impacts of COVID-19: Wave 2: https://cmha.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/CMHA-UBC-wave-2-Summary-of-Findings-FINAL-EN.pdf
2. Workplace Mental Health: https://cmha.ca/what-we-do/national-programs/workplace-mental-health/
3. 4 Ways To Destigmatize Mental Health At Work: https://www.forbes.com/sites/aliceboyes/2020/08/31/4-ways-to-destigmatize-mental-health-at-work/?sh=149d181e49dc