7 Tips to Prioritize Employee Mental Health

7 Tips to Prioritize Employee Mental Health

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The mental health of your employees and their stress levels affect every aspect of your business, both positively and negatively. It can be difficult to attract and retain qualified employees amid the continued uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. Many people and companies are struggling to adjust to the “new normal” of remote and hybrid work. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to prioritize employee mental health and increase engagement to ensure your people and business are healthy.  

More and more people are experiencing mental health issues, with a whopping 51% of people reporting worse mental health at work since the pandemic began, and up to 58% of employees reporting burnout. Struggling employees have a harder time maintaining engagement, which affects productivity, turnover, profitability, and relationships with customers. In fact, disengaged employees cost U.S. companies up to $550 billion annually.

As a leader, it is important to make sure your team has the proper tools and resources to perform at their best, and for you to be supportive during this time of need. Here are seven things you can do to support employee mental health while increasing your team’s engagement.

1. Be a Healthy Role Model

Your image as a leader directly affects how your team views you and their workplace. Leaders should be confident, passionate, enthusiastic, and approachable.

Approachable leaders are friendly, they listen to their team’s questions and concerns without perceiving them as bothersome. They show empathy and vulnerability, and they take a genuine interest in the lives of their employees.

Being able to place yourself in another person’s shoes is invaluable to building trust with your team and making them feel understood. Treat every member of your team fairly and communicate well. When coaching, speak to your team with respect. A management style akin to radical candor is ideal. 

It is also important to take care of yourself. Find ways to manage your stress and take care of your own mental health, and communicate with your team what has been helpful for you while encouraging them to share their own methods of coping. Employees follow and feed off of their leader, so lead with care and it will pay dividends.

2. Check-In Frequently With Your Team

It can be hard to notice signs that someone is struggling or on the verge of burnout. An employee who is usually on time may begin showing up late, or they may suddenly have a hard time keeping up with deadlines or their sales skills may be slipping. You may notice a change in mood or in self-grooming habits.

If you notice some of these signs, it may be helpful to reach out and ask them how they are doing. Really take the time to listen to them, be compassionate, and offer support and resources if possible. Pulse surveys check-ins are a great way to ask about employee mental health while keeping responses anonymous, which facilitates honest and authentic communication. 

They may not want to share too much, and that is fine, but knowing that you are willing to listen can be very helpful. It may be useful to learn ways to lessen the effects of burnout to help keep your team at their best.

Schedule a demo today to see how WorkTango can support your pulse survey rhythms check-ins and deliver the insights you need to keep your team happy and healthy.

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3. Provide a Safe Way for Your Team to Report Issues

Up to 34% of employees do not speak up about concerns in the workplace because of fear of corrective action or retaliation. You can’t solve issues if you don’t know what they are and if your team is afraid to share necessary information, it can prevent growth for your team and your business.

It is important to have a channel for all employees and stakeholders to report any unethical and illegal activities in complete confidence. An anonymous, digital whistleblowing system can be a helpful tool for your team to communicate any concerns they have without fear of retaliation or loss of security. It provides them a way to speak up without adding any additional stress, giving you insight into potential issues that can be affecting employee mental health, morale and wellbeing. 

If issues contributing to a toxic work environment are discovered, such as harassment or mistreatment, online sexual harassment training can help educate your organization in an effort to resolve problem behavior.

4. Show Your Appreciation 

Your team is an integral part of keeping your business going. A lack of appreciation is a big reason why employees become less engaged at work, or why they decide to leave.

It is important to recognize good qualities in your team and thank them for their hard work and dedication. Receiving compliments feels great, and when you let your team know they are doing something right, it will boost their confidence and increase productivity, morale, retention, and employee mental health.

5. Create Opportunities For Growth 

Good employees are constantly looking for opportunities for growth. If they find themselves feeling stuck or caught in a dead-end within their roles, they may start seeking opportunities elsewhere.

Make sure you connect with your team members about their personal and professional goals and work together to make sure that what they do is supportive of the company and their personal growth. One-on-one meetings create the ideal space for syncing up and developing strong interpersonal relationships, providing feedback, coaching and giving personal anecdotes like “Based on our conversation, new initiatives are being developed to support employee mental health.”

It is important to check in frequently to make sure your team feels adequately challenged, while within their capabilities.

Employees may also identify opportunities for growth through a recent survey. Download the Guide to Employee Voice here for everything you need to know about activating the Employee Voice in your organization to help create a better employee experience.

6. Provide Adequate Training 

Training is necessary for everyone to understand their roles and responsibilities, and for them to gain knowledge and skills to perform better at their jobs. When employees are properly trained, they have more confidence, are more engaged, and feel more invested in your business.

Proper training can increase productivity and reduce employee turnover. However, your employees may have different learning styles. Here are some learning styles you might notice:

  1. Auditory learners learn better when they can listen to verbal instructions, like audio recordings and videos with voiceovers. Being able to rewind and replay videos helps them to retain information. 
  2. Kinesthetic learners learn best with a more hands-on approach. They tend to use their senses when learning new things, and it is helpful for them to learn with physical tasks they can complete while being given verbal instructions simultaneously.
  3. Visual learners learn better when they are shown how a task is completed, rather than told verbally. They might benefit more from pictures, graphs, symbols, and videos. 

What works for one employee might not work for another. While it is important for employees to have proper training, it is also important for leaders to be well trained, flexible, and willing to learn and develop new skills in order to better lead their team and run their business. 

7. Plan Team-Building Events 

A lot of employee engagement has to do with how they relate to you and their fellow team members. Setting up events—virtual or in-person—for your team to get to know each other on a personal level may help them work together better on a professional level.

These team-building events also positively influence employee mental health and engagement by allowing colleagues to see their team members in a different light, facilitating deeper connections outside of a professional work setting which results in a more engaged and cohesive workforce. Some ideas include a game night, potluck dinner, or even joining a volunteer group.

Employee Mental Health is Tied to Engagement

The mental health of your employees has taken on increased importance since the beginning of the pandemic. Stress, burnout, and other mental health illnesses have stemmed from the wave of unexpected personal and economic transformations the pandemic forced on us all. To mitigate the ripple effects of this tidal wave, prioritizing employee mental health and engagement are the best way to ensure your employees and business are taken care of long-term. 

At the end of the day, everyone wants to be seen, heard, and respected. Treating your team as human beings and showing a little kindness can go a long way to improve employee mental health, engagement and business outcomes for many years to come.


Author Bio: Gabby Baglino is a digital marketing specialist for Vispato, with several years of experience in business marketing, writing, and content creation.