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5 Reasons Why Businesses Should Promote Mental Health In The Workplace

Published May 05, 2021 -
employee happy they're in a workplace with great mental health awareness

If you value your employees’ productivity, their mental health should matter to you. Mentally burdened employees are highly likely to be half-committed to their jobs – a situation known as employee presenteeism.

In the worst-case scenarios, your employees could actually fail to show up to work to deal with their mental burdens. This is especially common for businesses that don’t have an environment that supports the mental health of their employees.

Wellness and Wellbeing Matter

There isn’t a shortage of issues that might weigh your employees down, from family conflicts to workplace burdens. The good thing with creating a haven where employees’ mental health can thrive is that it can be beneficial for your business.

You can enjoy having engaged employees, improve employee retention rates, and attain business goals with ease. The question is – how do you design your work environment to be supportive of your employees’ mental health?

Why It’s Important to Create a Mentally Healthy Business

In the quest to remove the stigma around mental health in the workplace, most organisations have been conducting research on mental health. Here are some key statistics that shine some light on the need for developing a mentally healthy workplace:

  • About half of all workers shy away from telling their managers about their mental health issues out of fear of losing their jobs.
  • Mental health issues are a matter of when someone gets unwell, not if, for most people. In fact, 1 in every 4 people experience mental health issues each year.
  • The financial service industry and the building and construction industry are known to have above-average mental illness cases in the workforce.
  • The cost of initiating mental health programs within your organisation shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, it promises a great ROI. Companies can enjoy an additional 10 hours of productivity from employees with mild mental health conditions. While the investment will offer your business 7 extra days of productivity from employees with moderate mental health conditions, you stand to enjoy an extra 17 productive working days from employees suffering from severe mental health conditions.

What Does A Mentally Healthy Workplace Look Like?

Adopt an Open-Door Policy

Employees should never feel like there is a barrier between them and their direct managers or colleagues. You should normalise having employees reach out to their managers with their mental health struggles as well as other issues affecting their working conditions.

Ideally, detailing your open-door policy in your employee handbook can be wise. Be sure to walk the talk. Train managers to be more committed to the mental well-being of their employees by having them participate in mental health training about how to have these hard conversations. Ensure that you also encourage employees to share among themselves keeping in mind that discussions about employment conditions are confidential.

Promote Work-Life Balance

While you want to have productive employees, you shouldn’t push their limits to the point where their work feels like a burden. Sure, the most productive employees can manage to handle huge workloads, but over-exerting them in work can lead to burnout. Everyone needs time to recharge and attend to their personal lives.

Avoid sending employees work-related emails and texts when they are off-duty. Instead, you should encourage them to take rests, go on vacation, and spend time with their families. Although it might seem trivial, having a bit of rest from work can help employees deal with their mental health burden – which makes them focus more once they get back to work.

Invest in Your Employee’s Mental Health

Start investing in a workforce mental health program by launching mental health training sessions. Most employees might not understand that they are dealing with a mental condition, or might be in denial. Arming them with the right information will help them deal with their situations better.

The training should also show employees how to relate to those struggling with mental health conditions. The training program can include information on where to seek help, apps to use to improve mental health, and best practices for dealing with different conditions. BrightSafe also hosts mental health training courses designed just for employers and the workplace.

If possible, have an in-house counselor or mental health expert. Otherwise, you can have the contact details for a few mental healthcare experts to whom your employees can vent their frustrations. Going out of your way to show your employees that you care for their mental health could result in them reciprocating the gesture by being more engaged at work.

If these are not feasible you can produce your own mental health program that suits your business, your employees needs and your budget. Everyone suffers highs and lows, but your employees don’t have to deal with their struggles while isolated. Creating a workplace environment in which employees feel safe and appreciated will help alleviate their mental burdens. Besides, you stand to gain a lot from having a mentally healthy workforce.

Indicators Your Employees May Be Struggling

  • Sullen, erratic or otherwise low moods
  • Low or dropping productivity when previously it was stable, despite doing similar tasks as before
  • Dramatic change in appearance
  • Slow, flat or low volume when speaking
  • Low interest and morale
  • Isolates self from others
  • Absenteeism or tardiness

Benefits of a Mentally Healthy Workplace

According to a report conducted by the University of Technology, Sydney, and the University of Sydney, a mentally healthy workplace:

  • Increases productivity, staff engagement and retention
  • Helps employees to stay healthy and recover their ill-health at work
  • Leads employees to report less time off work due to feeling mentally unwell
  • Returns up to $4 for every $1 invested in mental health in the workplace

Contact Lifeline on 0800 543 354 if you are looking for mental health or suicide prevention information and support.

Get Workplace Advice Now

Employsure can help you with your WHS and Workplace Relations. Call now for free, initial advice.

About Employsure

Employsure is one of New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisers to small- and medium-businesses, with over 5,000 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What Causes Mental Health Problems in the Workplace?

    Mental health problems can be caused by many things in the workplace, such as workload pressure, culture, employee burnout, workplace accidents and more. However, it should be noted that mental health is complex and there often isn’t a single cause of a mental health problem. It is often a culmination of other issues, as well as that person’s own personality and coping strategies, etc.

  • How Do I Implement A Mental Health Policy?

    To implement a mental health policy, you need to provide copies to each member of staff and communicate that the policy is now in effect. It is suggested you also give your employees a least quick rundown of your new mental health policy – in other words, what’s contained in the policy and what it means for the business and staff.

  • Can I Dismiss an Employee with Mental Health Issues?

    Whether or not you can discuss an employee with mental health issues depends on the reasons for dismissal. Additionally, anti-discrimination legislation is an important thing to consider. If you’re considering dismissing an employee with mental health issues, Employsure can assist you with some free, initial advice.

  • How Is Mental Health Awareness Implemented in the Workplace?

    Mental health awareness can be implemented in the workplace in many different ways. But, here are some suggestions to help get you started:

    • Discuss the mental health openly with your workforce, including how you can help them with any mental health issues
    • Introduce a mental health policy
    • Communicate mental health issues, as well as offering tips and numbers to counselling services, around the workplace

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