Mental health in the workplace

Why do we need to talk about mental health within the workplace?

In today’s fast-paced and demanding work environments, the significance of understanding and prioritizing mental health within the workplace cannot be emphasized enough. Organisations strive for productivity and success, but it is crucial to recognize and prioritize the well-being of employees. This blog article delves into many aspects of mental health within the workplace, such as raising awareness, creating a work-life balance and remote work & mental health. 

Work used to be all about how much you get done, but now we know it’s also about how you feel. Taking care of your employees’ mental health isn’t just nice, it’s good for business. When people feel good at work, they stay longer, miss less work, and are more productive and creative. Employees who are happy with the work environment they are provided with and the peace of mind that comes with it tend to stick around more. There are fewer call-ins, are less likely to quit and are more productive. 

Promoting mental health at work boosts productivity, creativity, and idea generation. Creating a mentally healthy workplace isn’t just about kindness; it’s essential for building a successful team. Top workers seek jobs that support their well-being, and companies prioritizing both work and wellness attract top talent. Neglecting mental health implies moral oversight, impacting how organizations are perceived by employees in a competitive job market.

What challenges do employees face in terms of mental health?

People of various age ranges join the workforce regularly, and can be generally categorised as being young workers (ages 18-30), middle aged (30-50) and senior/soon-to-retire (50+). It’s important to note when talking about mental health challenges in the workplace that these individuals could have different challenges to one another due to the age gaps. 

Some such challenges we can address are:

  1. The ‘new’ workforce
  • Struggle to have a work-life balance 
  • Career insecurities and uncertainties regarding career progression
  • Having a pressure to succeed that is commonly seen within youngsters in this era
  1. Middle aged workers
  • Mid-career burnout 
  • Experience stress from both work-related demands and family responsibilities 
  • Having mid-life ambition shifts 
  1. Senior workers close to retirement
  • The transition from work life to retirement 
  • Feeling isolated and lonely through the retirement process
  •  Financial concerns 

If you are the boss, what can you do to encourage and prioritise mental health within the workplace? 

As a person of authority within your work place, here are some things you can do to prioritize mental health within the workplace. 

  • Regular one-on-one check-ins with your team are crucial. 
  • Encourage open conversations about changes, stress, or concerns. 
  • Use anonymous surveys or feedback boxes to uncover hidden issues. 
  • Guide employees to available help like EAPs or counseling, ensuring they know it’s okay to seek assistance. 
  • Provide flexible options such as remote work or flexible hours to ease the stress of balancing work and life.

By doing these things, you can create a workplace where people feel supported and can thrive, both mentally and professionally.

And as an employee?

Contributing to a supportive work environment as an employee involves actively engaging in practices that prioritise your personal mental health and that of others. This can be done through various means such as, 

  • Promote mental health discussions and normalize the culture within your team. 
  • Utilize employer-provided mental health resources and seek support through counseling or employee assistance programs if facing challenges. 
  • Cultivate supportive relationships with colleagues and be an empathetic listener. 
  • Demonstrate work-life balance by taking breaks and using vacation time. 
  • Provide constructive feedback to management regarding workplace practices impacting well-being.

If both employers and employees follow such practices, it is easy to create a supportive and thriving working environment. 

We already discussed in brief about the work-life balance, but why is it important for an individual’s mental health? 

It’s important to balance work and personal life for our well-being. This means finding the right mix of work and time for ourselves, family, and hobbies. When we achieve this balance, it helps our mental and physical health, reduces stress, and makes our lives more fulfilling. There are ways to maintain a good work-life balance, not only during certain times but in a way that it is maintained consistently.

  • Cearly define your work hours and stick to them. Avoid bringing work home whenever possible and stick to the concept of work-is-work, home-is-home. 
  • Make self-care a priority. Take breaks during the workday, get enough sleep and engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, whether it be a night out with friends or a cozy evening chilling with Netflix. 
  • Planning your day and prioritizing tasks can help you manage your time more effectively, reducing stress and allowing for a smoother balance between work and personal commitments.
  • Understand that it’s okay to say no. Learn your limits and communicate clearly with colleagues to maintain your boundaries. 
  • While technology can make work more accessible, it’s important to use it wisely. Set boundaries for checking emails or messages after work hours. Disconnecting from work-related technology helps create a clearer distinction between work and personal time.
  • Discuss your workload, deadlines, and any challenges you may be facing with your colleagues. Being transparent about your capacity helps create a supportive work environment. 

After the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies switched to hybrid forms of work, with employees working on-site some days and working from home on other days. While remote work offers flexibility and convenience, this significant shift caused changes in the mental health of people.  

These shifts may be positive, or negative. Positive aspects includes flexibility, independence over work hours, reduced stress over daily commute, and allowing individuals to create a personalized and comfortable working environment. However, there are negatives, such as- isolation and feeling lonely, not having strict work-life boundaries, difficulty in communication online (mostly for senior workers) and fatigue due to continuous reliance on technology. 

In conclusion, this blog has explored the vital topic of mental health in the workplace. We’ve learned why it’s crucial to talk about mental well-being and how both employers and employees can contribute to a supportive environment. From understanding common challenges at different ages to implementing practical strategies for maintaining a good work-life balance, we can contribute towards a more engaged, productive, and positive workplace. 

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