According to the Center for Prevention and Health, mental illness and substance abuse cost employers between $79 and $105 billion annually. Absenteeism, reduced productivity and increased health care costs are a few reasons why. The way staff think, feel and behave impacts productivity, communication, the ability to maintain safety in the workplace and other issues. As a result, you want to do all you can to improve employees’ wellbeing and the health of the organization.
Here are four tips on how to encourage positive mental health in the workplace.
Encourage Work-Life Balance
Stress the importance of work-life balance. For instance, avoid having employees come in early or stay late as much as possible. Remind them not to check work email during the evening and on weekends. Offer flextime or remote work options if possible. Provide as much flexibility as possible for when personal issues arise, such as needing to pick up a sick child from school. Remind staff to use all of their vacation days to enjoy time with family and friends.
Make the Office Comfortable
Since your staff spends so much time at work, ensure their work area is comfortable. For instance, provide as much natural light as possible. This encourages better moods, productivity and concentration. Offer common areas where coworkers can move around and interact. They can zone out, catch up about non-work topics, play games and relax. Ensure your office has fresh, modern decor. Focus on bright, airy colors such as whites, off-whites, blues, greens and yellows to promote calm and inspire creativity.
Promote Discussion of Mental Health
Encourage staff to talk about mental health issues. Demonstrate how serious stress, anxiety, depression, and other issues are and how you want to help. Break down the barriers and stigma related to the issue. Show that there’s no judgment in what they say or feel. Their jobs are protected no matter their circumstances. Let employees know they can privately discuss whatever may be impacting them. Be sure staff members are trained in mental health advocacy and resilience. They can recognize signs of mental unwellness and know how to respond and seek support.
Remind employees to focus on their overall wellness. For instance, have them take regular breaks in the break room and 20-minute walks to improve moods and refresh the brain. Encourage employees to take a 5-minute screen break every hour to let their eyes readjust. Provide a water cooler to promote staying hydrated throughout the day. Encourage a culture full of positivity and support. Recognize staff for their contributions and successes. Show gratitude for their work through handwritten post-it notes or cards, treats, bonuses, or other rewards. These actions reduce stress, boost positivity, encourage motivation and build strong bonds among coworkers.
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