How to promote mental health & wellbeing in the workplace

Did you know that according to the Workplace Health Report: 2022, 67% of employees experience moderate to high levels of stress, which lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression? 

There are many contributing factors to stress in the workplace, including unrealistic workloads, working long hours, poor management, workplace bullying, lack of opportunities and even the physical environment of the office too. 

While being employed generally has a positive effect on people’s mental health, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t stop there. You need to ensure that the work environment, culture and people offer a safe and welcoming atmosphere where wellbeing is actively encouraged.

Here, we’ll be sharing with you our 7 top tips on how to support mental health in the workplace, so your employees can do their best work, have thriving careers and feel happy to come to the office.

7 Ways to Support Mental Health in the Workplace

At some point in our lives, we’ve all experienced the highs and lows of good mental health and poor mental health. As an employer, it should be your priority to ensure your workers are happy and healthy by promoting and encouraging mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

A business is nothing without its employees, so not only does promoting mental health benefit your employees, but it’ll also benefit your business. When you have employees who are happier to come to work, you’ll quickly see improved productivity and performance, more motivation and creativity, reduced staff absences, reduced staff turnover, improved working relationships and an overall strong reputation as a business.

1. Raise Awareness for Mental Health

Despite the fact that mental health affects everyone and more conversations are being had about it online, there’s still a big stigma around addressing it in the workplace. Many employees often feel nervous or reluctant to talk to their direct managers about any mental health issues they may be facing, which shouldn’t be the case. 

Raise awareness around mental health in the workplace and become pioneers in breaking the stigma by implementing these simple but effective ideas:

  • Hold frequent mental health training or workshops for those who want it.
  • Make it clear who the mental health first aiders are in the office.
  • Encourage everyone to speak up about mental health, so it becomes the norm.
  • Offer counselling sessions and wellbeing activities such as yoga, meditation, massages or reflexology within your company benefits.
  • Write blog posts and newsletters to raise awareness and understanding.
  • Remind employees not to feel ashamed or worried and be as supportive as possible.

2. Look After Yourself First and Lead By Example

How do you expect your employees to look after themselves if you, their boss and mentor, are burnt out? Open up about your own mental health to employees as a way to create a safe space where anyone is free to talk and share their stories or self-care ideas.

Make sure you take plenty of breaks yourself to eat, exercise, read, go for walks, or even take a midday power nap. Employees will automatically feel more relaxed if you’re relaxed and will take a page out of your book to find time for themselves during the day. 

3. Prioritise a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Having a healthy work-life balance is key to the success of your business and the happiness of employees. As a manager or a leader, you need to recognise that people have busy lives, families, hobbies, social events and goals outside of work too. 

So, discourage anyone from working overtime or on the weekend, unless absolutely necessary. If a big deadline is approaching and working overtime can’t be helped, then ensure you show your appreciation and reward anyone who sacrifices their personal time but don’t make it a habit.

You should also consider offering flexible working hours, working from home and even part-time work for those with young families, or new parents returning to work after an extended leave. Show your employees the trust and respect they deserve, and we guarantee they won’t let you down.

4. Encourage a Healthy Diet

While caffeine and sugary treats will provide an immediate mood boost, you should also encourage a healthy, balanced diet by providing a variety of snacks in the office. Food can have a long-lasting effect on our minds and bodies, it’s what fuels us for the day, after all, and people need a range of nutrients in order to focus and function.

For those who come into the office in the mornings, provide a selection of healthy cereals and bread they can enjoy with different toppings. Include lots of fruit and vegetables to snack on during the day, as well as nuts, seeds, yoghurt, popcorn, rice cakes and anything else employees would enjoy. 

Ensure there is also plenty of water for employees to stay hydrated and encourage everyone to have at least 3 meals a day and not skip their lunch break.

5. Provide Employees with Support

Employees will understand that, though you may encourage mental health in the workplace, you’re not an expert on everything, and there will be some situations that are out of your control/capacity to handle. In this case, ensure that employees feel fully supported and provide them with extra resources outside of the office, such as helpline phone numbers, guides, organisations, charities and people who may be able to assist better. 

6. Manage Work Expectations

Though the work day is typically 8 hours long, no one is able to work 8 hours straight, and it’s important you make this clear to your employees. Encourage them to take regular breaks, get outside and away from the screen when they can and don’t overload themselves with work. Remind them that it’s okay to say ’no’ to a task when their plate is already full.

As a business owner, you’ll also need to pay attention to specific job roles and make sure all employees have the skills and resources they need to carry out their daily tasks without any additional stress.

7. Manage and Effectively Communicate Any Changes in the Company

Whether you’re a startup or a large business, over time, your company is bound to undergo some changes. It could be a change in location, management, team members, or company structure, or implementing a new system or range of tools to use. Whatever the change, make sure you manage and communicate these changes to your employees effectively. Otherwise, you could be causing unnecessary stress when people don’t understand the change.

We’d suggest holding a company-wide meeting explaining the changes and the reason behind them and then meeting with each individual or team who will be affected most by the changes. Encourage people to ask any questions or discuss their concerns and provide any training needed to support them. Being transparent, honest and informative will help employees ease into the changes seamlessly.

Want to know how else you can establish wellbeing in the workplace? Check out our workplace wellbeing solutions guide for more information.

Also, read our blog to learn how to manage stress in the workplace and why it’s important employees stay hydrated at work.

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