May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Many employers already see the benefits of incorporating mental health awareness in the workplace, but some are left wondering whether promoting mental health is their responsibility. The workplace is the perfect place to promote awareness because communication structures are already in place, social support networks are available, and employers can offer incentives to create healthy behaviors. More importantly, mental health issues and stress have a negative impact on employee performance. Continue reading to learn how you can help promote mental health awareness in your workplace in five, easy to implement steps.
The Impacts of Mental Health Issues and Stress on the Workplace
The big question is why should you care. According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 5 US adults reported any mental illness in 2016. Poor mental health and stress can negatively impact job performance, productivity, communication with co-workers, and physical capability and daily function. Additionally, those who suffer from mental health issues and stress often struggle with physical health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, respiratory illness, and disorders that affect muscles, bones and joints. The right workplace initiatives can reduce the high medical expenses that result for employers and employees.
What Solutions are Available to Employers
There are many ways to promote mental health awareness in the workplace. The five tips below are a great way to start.
1. Invite Employees to Take Part in Decisions Related to Mental Health
Before you make any decisions about your mental health initiatives, consult your team. The initiatives are for them after all and should reflect their goals and needs. Consider a survey or meeting with the team in small groups to encourage participation. Lead with an open mind. Not every idea can be implemented. Consider the pros and cons to make your final decisions.
2. Provide Substantial Resources
Resources may come in the form of health insurance with no to little out-of-pocket expenses for mental health counseling, mental health self-assessment tools, mindfulness seminars, and training to identify signs and symptoms. Always ensure that resources are inclusive and do not single any one person or group out.
3. Promote Work-Life Balance
Ensure that your team understands that their mental health comes first by providing time off. As more companies emphasize the importance of mental health awareness, traditional paid time off is becoming a thing of the past. Many companies have moved towards a hybrid work from home schedule, especially after the impacts of the pandemic. Others are offering unlimited paid time off to encourage employees to take time when they need it, rather than call in sick for fear of rejection. Others are meeting in the middle.
For example, at OctoClean we grant two paid days off each month to all full-time employees in addition to their own personal time off. Employees use this time to travel, schedule doctors appointments, and complete errands they otherwise wouldn’t have time to get done. This initiative is overseen by department heads to prevent schedule conflicts.
4. Create a Quiet, Clean and Safe Work Environment
Designate one or more areas in the workplace to be quiet places for employees to decompress and relax. You can create an inviting workplace by keeping it clean. The Harvard Business Journal reports that cluttered, disorganized workspaces have a negative impact on the way we work. Hire a trusted partner to help you manage cleaning solutions. Other ways to create a more enjoyable work environment include adding plants to the workplace and creating open spaces that encourage collaboration.
5. Encourage Connection
While accomplishing your business related goals is important, it is also important to make time for fun. Organize company events, retreats, lunches, and more to show that your team’s hard work is important, but not all that matters. These events are a great time to explain that their mental wellbeing is important too.
Implement Your Mental Health Wellness Initiatives
Now that you have the tools you need to create a mental health positive workplace, it’s time to implement. Do so by creating a physical document outlining each initiative that can be easily shared and accessed by your team. Don’t forget to consider the five tips discussed above:
- Invite employees to take part in decisions related to mental health.
- Provide substantial resources.
- Promote work-life balance.
- Create a quiet, clean, and safe work environment.
- Encourage connection.
For more information about how we can help you maintain a clean safe workplace, contact us here.