Mental Health Awareness week passed not too long ago and has a lot of people thinking about the state of mind in all areas of life. If you’re a business owner, it’s time to extend that thinking to your employees. With how big a role work plays in the average individual’s life and how it fills the spot as one of their biggest responsibilities, it’s no wonder that work is one of the most common causes of stress, anxiety, and plays a role in other health issues. Here, we’ll look at how being mindful of the mind can help improve everything, from the lives of individual employees to how the business runs as a whole.
Recognizing the dangers
It’s not always easy to tell when people are dealing with things like stress or depression in the workplace. Experts like those at the HSE can help you recognise some of the most obvious symptoms, such as irritability, increased absenteeism and more. However, the best way to be able to recognise the dangers is to create a safe space in the business where people can share their concerns. You can do this by hosting non-specific briefings on mental health awareness in the workplace and make it clear that you are prepared to help with the needs of people suffering from stress or other concerns. It’s a good idea to have someone with some knowledge of the field to help in actually coping with such cases, however. Be open, listen flexibly without making any assumptions and ensure confidentiality without fail.
The gift of a goal
There a lot of ways you can help the company be a place where it’s easier to contain the impact that work has on the individual’s mental health, too. For instance, one of the most helpful things for finding an ‘even keel’ emotionally is a sense of routine and purpose to one person’s work. Sometimes, knowing what your job is isn’t enough. Setting goals can help employees see the reason they’re doing the task they’re on. That can help them better appreciate the work they’re doing, which in turn means they’re less likely to deal with feelings of futility in their job.
Making workloads manageable
Instability is a dangerous thing in a workplace. It makes employees feel like they’re always being caught off guard and that they don’t know just how solid a foundation their job is based on. Making sure that roles have key responsibilities to return to is crucial. But it’s likely that, at some point, they’re going to have to work outside those key responsibilities. To make sure that additional work isn’t causing too much damage to their routine or asking too much of them, employers should equip them with time-management tools like Timeware. Otherwise, it’s easy to have trouble balancing the different tasks, impacting both their productivity and their confidence in the work they’re doing. When you try to do everything at once, it’s only more likely that you get nothing done.
Employers and managers playing a role in helping to manage that time are also going to help them better understand what work their team is already doing and how full a plate the individual is coping with. You might have one or two “rocks” of the business you know you can always rely on, but you should be careful to not take advantage of the people who consistently do more for the business. Some employees feel a certain amount of pressure to say “yes” all the time. However, they may be dealing with the negative health effects of taking on too much overtime and of being too flexible with their work. Be reasonable and be cognizant of just how much you’re asking of your people.
Creating safe spaces
You also have to be prepared for when circumstances out of the ordinary make their appearance in the workplace. Unexpected crises can be some of the most stress-inducing parts of the job. A critical incident such as an argument in the workplace, burnout, injury, or otherwise can have long-lasting repercussions on the mental health of the individual. You shouldn’t assume their crisis is over just because the initial danger has been dealt with. Services like Health Assured know that the danger isn’t passed for them. Employers should take care to make sure that employees are recovering healthily from such incidents. This includes not pressuring them to get back into the pace sooner than they’re ready to. That’s the mark not only of an understanding employer but a caring human being.
Mastering the environment
A certain amount of work stress is to be expected. Sometimes, it can even be a positive force, helping to motivate the team. But there should always be a balance between the pleasant parts of work and the stressful. There are a variety of tools to help cope with that stress and the physical workspace can be a big part of that. Whether it means decorating the office space with bright, engaging colours, allowing employees to personalise their own desk or providing a comfortable separate break area. An employer should invest in the physical space shared by the team.
It affects your customers as well
You should care for the mental well-being, engagement, and motivation of your team simply because it’s the right thing to do. It’s also your legal responsibility. But if you need even more incentive, then you should consider how customer-friendly the business is. Interpersonal relationships are a lot harder to maintain when dealing with stress, depression, and other mental health issues. If you have someone who is dealing with anxiety, it may help, for instance, to take them off of customer-facing roles for a change. Naturally, you shouldn’t make the assumption that it will help but you should ask them if it might. Failing to treat your employees right will show, and one of the ways it shows most obviously is in interaction with customers.
Remember, you’re responsible for the workplace’s effects on your employee’s mental health, not just their physical health. Be prepared for what that responsibility entails.