According to Gallup’s 2022 report, 57% of Canadian and U.S. workers reported feeling stressed every day, which is 8 percentage points more than the previous year and compared to 43% of people who felt that way globally, according to the 2021 report of Gallup. In Great Britain, 32.5 million working days were lost in 2019/20 due to work-related ill-health. These figures point to a deep-rooted problem.
As the impact of COVID-19 continues to blur the lines between home and work, it has become important to understand mental health. Employers should take steps to create an amicable work environment and manage their employees’ workload to prevent them from stepping into the vicious cycle of high stress and poor mental health, which will invariably impact their physical health too.
Supporting employees’ mental health is no longer a nice-to-have ingredient in modern workplaces. Rather, it has become a necessity. For growing your business and strengthening your market position, protecting your human assets from work-related risk factors that can adversely affect their mental health has become crucial. That’s why several employers are focusing on creating wellness solutions (or have already done it) to help their employees thrive and combat factors that can trigger mental health issues.
Understanding Mental Health
Mental health refers to an individual’s psychological, emotional, and social well-being. It includes how the person copes with daily stressors, works productively, attains his or her full potential, and contributes to his or her community.
It’s crucial to realise that mental health isn’t the mere absence of mental illness. It’s much more than that. Even when a person has no mental illness, he or she can have poor mental health. Since mental health and human performance are related and not two separate pursuits, employers need to prioritise employee mental health to hire top talents and retain them.
Why Should Workplace Wellness be a Top Priority?
When your employees feel good mentally, they will be better positioned to deal with other areas of their well-being. Keeping your employees physically healthy, socially connected, and financially stable are necessary facets of a high-performing corporate culture.
By encouraging positive mental health at work, you can help your employees remain agile when their roles and responsibilities change. They can also cope better when facing complex situations or challenges. Thus, focusing on your employees’ mental health will help them flourish in their assigned roles, manage stress better, and enjoy improved resilience. Ultimately, it will allow those individuals to attain their highest potential.
What Can Employers Do to Improve Their Employees’ Mental Health
Mental health at the workplace can take a beating due to the following:
- Poor management practices and communication
- Inadequate health and safety policies
- Low levels of support for employees
- Low to zero control over one’s area of work
- Limited participation in the decision-making process
- Rigid working hours
- Unclear organizational objectives or tasks
Other risk factors include unrelenting workload, bullying and psychological harassment, and unsuitable tasks (in terms of the individual’s competency).
Employers should take steps and form policies and strategies to reduce the above-mentioned risk factors and create a healthy workplace. Not sure what makes a workplace healthy? It’s where managers and workers actively contribute to the work environment by protecting and promoting all employees’ safety, health, and well-being.
It will also help if employers take a 3-pronged approach to:
- Protect their employees’ mental health by decreasing work-related risk factors
- Address mental health issues irrespective of their cause(s)
- Encourage and implement mental health programs and initiatives
Additionally, if employers invest time to understand the needs and opportunities of individual employees, it would let them frame better policies for workplace mental health. Being aware of resources and other modes of support and making employees know about where they can find help and expert guidance to deal with mental issues are other ways employers can support their employees’ mental health.
In these uncertain times, a majority of employees are anxious, but most employers aren’t doing enough to support their people. As employers, you should have the intention, money, and time to invest in your employees’ mental health and overall well-being. Though you may not see quick results, your actions will eventually lead to a better workplace that drives your people to help you accomplish your business objectives.
What are you doing to support your employees’ mental health?