Employee mental health pertains to an individual’s emotional, psychological, behavioral, and social well-being in the workplace. And it has slowly become a topic of interest for many companies because of its overall effect on an employee’s well-being. In turn, organizations must find ways to prioritize mental health to retain employees and provide a safe space for them to communicate their needs for their well-being. And if you’re curious about how to start prioritizing employee mental health, here’s how to do it.

Why Employers Should Prioritize Mental Health

It Prevents Burnout

meQuilibrium revealed there was a 21% increase in burnout among employees from July 2020 to December 2021. The pandemic may have contributed to this growth. However, it’s still a pressing issue. If burnout is addressed at work, you may reduce the turnover rate or resignations.

It Builds Confidence and Trust in Management

The Harvard Business Review finds that when companies prioritize mental health, employees feel a sense of pride in the company. Plus, they open up to management regarding their mental health. That said, this enhances professional relationships, and employees are inclined to work longer.

It Creates a Healthy Working Environment and a Better Company Culture

Think of your organization as an organism. If you have mental health strategies in place, you’ll have an organism working to its full potential. We can look at it this way too. If you have employees that are constantly communicating and transparent with one another, you will have a fully working organization. Aside from that, work isn’t just about work either. With wellness programs or initiatives, you’re giving people an opportunity to get along and have some fun at work as well.

Benefits of Prioritizing Employee Mental Health

illustration of a stressed out worker

Higher Retention Rates

Burnout is one reason many are compelled to resign from the workplace. This could be due to high pressure or stressful work environments, no work-life balance, or no room to grow. But if your workplace values employee mental health by implementing programs or work arrangements, you can expect more people to stay at work.

Enhanced Employee Morale

When mental health strategies in your workplace are in effect, you can expect more motivated employees. They may work well with others. Plus, they could build support systems and learn to trust each other while doing tasks at work.

Increased Job Satisfaction and Productivity

If you value your employees’ mental health, all the more they’ll enjoy working for you and your company. They can produce better outputs, for example. They may enjoy doing the tasks that allow them to grow at your company.

Better Work-Life Balance

You want employees to perform well at work. But you have to make sure that your employees avoid drowning themselves in work as it could lead to burnout. Ensure that they get a work-life balance, like flexible working arrangements or unlimited PTOs.

Prioritizing Mental Health in the Workplace

illustration of a team

1. Open a Safe Space for Employees to Talk About Their Mental Health

The first step to prioritizing mental health in the workplace is to let employees talk about it. Of course, you don’t want to pressure people who don’t want to speak. But reassure them that you’re giving them a safe space to discuss it with you. Some employees may not be open to discussing their mental health concerns immediately. But you can check in with them and encourage them to speak if they need a break or a reduced workload. When it comes to mental health, communication is key.

Once you get an idea of the overall mental health atmosphere in the office, that’s when you can strategies and think about programs for your workforce.

But opening up about mental health issues starts with you, the employer, or your managers. Set an example to your employees by starting the conversation. When you open, you’re allowing employees access to your vulnerable side. That said, once again, you don’t have to pressure your employees to do the same. You can indicate that you have an open-door policy, which may encourage them to talk to you.

2. Implement Flexible Work Arrangement

The pandemic accelerated the need to implement remote work for most employees. Some employees have benefitted from work from home arrangements because it keeps them closer to families. Or they can focus at home alone. Whatever the reason, you should consider flexible work arrangements in your office. Allow employees to choose where and when they want to work. 

For example, you can have a policy where employees can work a week or two weeks at home and the remaining days at the office. Another instance can be allowing them to clock in at any time of the day. This allows them to plan their schedule and organize other activities during the day.

3. Partner with Therapists or Mental Health Startups

Anyone dealing with mental health conditions knows the importance of therapy. Talking with therapists is one way they can manage their day-to-day life. Even if most of your workplace may not display or exhibit symptoms of mental health conditions, having a therapist around can still help manage stress. You can encourage your workers to talk to your in-house mental health professional. Let them know that there’s one available to speak to and that the mental health professional will honor the patient-health professional confidentiality agreement.

4. Develop Wellness Programs

Therapy isn’t the only strategy to improve mental health. Creating and employing wellness programs can become beneficial to your employees. For example, your office can have fitness programs, such as gym memberships or having a small gym in your office. In some instances, some would offer healthy meals to their employees. Aside from physical fitness and wellness, you can also do mindfulness exercises like meditation. This shows that you are looking after your employees.

5. Provide Other Support and Resources

If the strategies mentioned above aren’t feasible yet, one way to support your employees is to listen. As mentioned previously, you can start with an open-door policy where employees can come to you or their managers if they need to talk about their situation. 

Another way to provide support is through leaves and breaks. Those can be small, but they can have a long-term impact. For example, if an employee wants to talk to you about the state of their mental health, why not offer them a leave? A few days off work can help the employee relax and recharge.

Having provided support, you can also give them resources. Sure, you may not be a mental health professional, BUT you can offer those through initiatives and workshops. Or you can research for resources, such as apps or publications that can help with their mental well-being.

Key Takeaways

Mental health de-stigmatization has a long way to go, especially in the workplace. But as more companies open up to the idea of implementing mental health strategies, it enables them not only as a desirable organization to work for but one to stay for and to find growth in. Mental health strategies are not a one-size-fits-all thing. It depends on which works well for your organization. And whatever you choose, you have to evaluate regularly and see which ones result in improved employee well-being.