In 2021, there has been a concerted focus on promoting positive mental health in the workplace while destigmatizing the need for mental health services. Instead of commuting to work, employees might have been walking into the former guest bedroom turned office to begin their workday. A full year of physical separation from friends, co-workers, and managers can lead to feelings of isolation.
Further, with the lines between work and home blurred for remote workers, daily routines have been disrupted, and feelings of uncertainty, stress, and anxiety have risen. Declining mental health may produce episodes of anxiety or depression. This can make it hard to find motivation for once-normal daily routines, perpetuating the vicious cycle.
Address Mental Health in the Workplace
Employers who promote mental health will reap the rewards of a healthy workforce, including increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and loyal, long-term employees. There are several ways to promote mental health within your company.
First, make sure you have established a safe, non-toxic work environment with open lines of communication. Then work to normalize discussions around burnout and self-care. Establish an open-door policy where employees are encouraged to reach out to managers to discuss problems or concerns without shame or retribution.
This can help alleviate the stress and apprehension employees may be experiencing. Having open lines of communication can affirm they aren’t alone and help pull them out of a rut.
A majority of companies offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), but most employees don’t leverage it. Employees often don’t know what it is or how to use it so make sure they are aware of the benefits and the contact information, including the website and phone numbers. To go one step further, leaders who share their first-hand experience using EAPs can destigmatize the use of mental health services.
Finally, promote activities that support mental health in the workplace: a wellness club, yoga, or meditation sessions with staggered times so employees can participate when it best suits them. Encourage them to go for a walk, clear their head a bit, and enjoy nature. Our CEO actively encourages us in our monthly All Hands meeting to participate in our wellness club and leads by example.
Bolster Your Virtual Company Culture
American workers put high expectations on themselves. If those goals aren’t met, employees could exacerbate anxiety by spending even more time at work trying to catch up, starting earlier, not taking breaks, eating at their desks, and even getting back online in the evenings for a few more hours.
By encouraging a normal routine, with regular breaks, exercise, and open communication to promote better mental health, these anxieties could be eliminated.
At Gava Talent Solutions, we have created digital spaces where we gather regularly—encouraging video usage to see one another—and then we hang out. There is no work talk, just a chance to catch up with each other and joke. It offers us an opportunity to renew connections, which is vital for people who suffer from high anxiety and depression. Our leadership joins in to talk with employees about their family and hobbies.
Companies without a large budget for mental health in the workplace can use the tools already available to them, like email. For example, employers could send out helpful articles on mental health with practical advice.
Finally, for new employees onboarding in the midst of working remotely, it can be even harder to connect with new teammates, so assigning a mentor or work buddy can make them feel included.
Ultimately, it is up to the employee to put in the work for their own mental health. Still, companies who offer the tools and encouragement will be the companies with happier, healthier employees and a work environment where people will want to stay.
About the Author
Jeremy’s commitment to finding the right candidate and “turning over every rock” is second to none. His 13 years of HR and Recruiting experience, has helped him become a true champion in assisting you with your accounting and finance, human resources and sales needs.