Believe it or not, work-related stress is one of the highest reported factors leading to mental health issues in the workplace. In fact, according to a research study conducted by the American Institute of Stress, 40% of the workers expressed their feelings about work being a huge source of stress in their lives, and 25% of the workers communicated that their jobs are the biggest stressors in their lives. It is vice versa, too i.e. just like work can affect mental health, mental health issues can affect workplace performance of the employees, too. Hence, it should be understood that if a usually well-performing employee suddenly starts performing poorly, they might be going through a tough time with their mental health.
With the increasing awareness and concerns about mental health issues, it has become extremely important for employers to understand that employees’ mental health is just as important to keep safe as their physical health at work. Numerous suicide cases are linked to issues at the workplace that suggests how much impact the workplace can have on a person’s life, which signifies the importance of maintaining an environment at work that fosters growth and supports mental health.
Many employers have reported that taking care of their employees’ mental health and easing their workplace stress sources have resulted in a notable improvement in the employee’s overall performance mainly sourcing from their loyalty.
- Start a Mental Health Awareness Program: If you are a manager, or are at an influential position in a company, you can initiate and encourage a mental health awareness program within the company. This would not only make your employees look up to you as a better person, but will also benefit the whole organization by increasing their loyalty and reducing their work-related stress. The awareness program may include conducting timely seminars to educate employees and managers alike on what a person going through mental health issues can be identified and helped. This would create better workplace relationships among colleagues as well as between managers and subordinates. When people will start to look after and help each other in the workplace, the employees will have an increased attachment to their jobs and are likely to be more productive and satisfied with their work.
- Ensure Work-Life Balance for Employees: People have lives outside of work, and sometimes, disturbances at work can damage their personal lives, leading to increased stress and deteriorating performance at work. It is important to ensure that each employee has a work-life balance. This means that you schedule the employees according to their given availabilities to avoid any unneeded stresses, and also avoid calling employees to work on short notices as this may disrupt their already set personal plans. While many employees want to work more to earn more, it is necessary that a manager ensures that they are not burning themselves out which would have an adverse effect on the employee as well as on the company.
- Implement Policies and Rules to Ensure Mental Security: The words, ‘harassment’, ‘bullying’, and ‘discrimination’ are unfortunately closely related to workplaces. Just like there are set rules and procedures about physical health hazards i.e. reporting of any incidents or near-miss hazards to ensure safety, there should be a development, education, and implementation of such policies for mental health hazards, too. Strict action must be taken against anyone found abusing a person’s mental security which includes the use of discriminatory remarks, harassing someone at work, or bullying. This also includes proper reporting of any sorts of threats or blackmailing from anyone at the workplace.
- Build Trusting Relations with Employees: Not only should a manager encourage his team members to have friendly relations among each other, but also have a positive and friendly behavior with each of the members. By allowing subordinates to talk openly about any problems they are facing, and ensuring the confidentiality of the information they trust you with, you can make a huge difference in someone’s life. While there are boundaries to how emotionally ‘close’ you can get to your employees, it is never wrong to just be a friend sometimes and give them support just by hearing them out. This plays the role of a support group, and is likely to resolve any unneeded problems at work and avoid any mental health issues that may be feeding on the work-related stress.
Life is not easy for anyone, and creating a workspace that makes others’ lives easier can help the company do a lot better. If employers would consider employees’ mental health an actual health issue, there would be lesser worries about people needing to hide their disorders worrying about being judged or even fired. Interestingly, it is illegal to fire someone over a mental health issue.