Nearly 2 in 3 organizational leaders report they’re worried about employee health (physical and mental health issues). With all that’s shaking the world right now—from inflation to global aggressions—it’s time that we take the issue of mental wellbeing seriously. Why?
- 1 in 5 adults suffers from a mental illness challenge
- Anxiety and depression sap 1 trillion dollars annually from the global economy each year
- Mental health diagnoses are more prevalent among the workforce than cancer, diabetes, or heart disease.
Needless to say, places of work are feeling the hit on health too. So what do we do?
First: End the silence; end the stigma.
Whether injuries are mental, emotional, or physical, they’re real, and we need to talk about them.
Second: Build a psychologically safe workplace.
Psychological safety is that quality of knowing that you won’t be shamed, punished, or pushed aside for speaking freely, taking risks, asking questions, or making well-intentioned mistakes. Without it, there’s no such thing as ongoing workplace innovation, true diversity and inclusion, or flourishing employee mental health.
Third: Train managers to offer mental health support.
Of all the people in an organization, managers are the best positioned to serve as first responders for employees who are suffering. Encourage managers to hold frequent one-on-one’s and to include time to talk about stress levels, employees’ mental health, life outside of work, team dynamics, and goals (which can help keep employees looking forward.)
Support employee well being with compassion
Empathy is key. So is transparency. Managers set the pace—that means talking about their own struggles, owning their mistakes, communicating thoroughly through changes (to ease employee anxiety), and modeling good mental wellness behaviors (like taking time off!) Managers are coaches, allies, partners—not just bosses or gatekeepers.
Ok, those are great things to work on for the everyday routine. But do you support employees when there’s a crisis? The pandemic taught us a lot about mental health challenges, well-being and burnout.
Here are nine things you can do, fast, to create a supportive employee experience:
- Ramp up communication. Provide timely, detailed, transparent answers to employees’ questions. The more you can anticipate what they need, the better.
- Upgrade access to mental health resources and then incentivize using them.
- Provide more opportunities for social connection.
- Remote work adds stressors to work-life balance and can lead to poor mental health. Remind managers to ask employees often, “How are you?”, “What do you need?” and to offer maximum flexibility as a response.
- Affirm to your employees that their thriving is your MAIN concern—and mean it.
- Listen! Survey frequently to learn your employees’ unspoken needs. Host town halls geared toward listening. Take employee suggestions seriously.
- Make sure recognition and gratitude are flowing fast in every direction.
- Offer paid time off for volunteerism. Giving back improves a person’s outlook.
- Communicate positivity without dipping into naïve optimism. “We’ll get through this together.”