Fostering an Environment That Puts Employees’ Mental Well-Being at the Forefront

Mental health is the most critical element in upholding employee well-being, yet it is the least of the priorities of some companies.

Studies reveal that more than 39% of employees in the United States suffer from mild to severe mental health problems. Mental health issues do not only affect people’s physical disposition, personal relationships, and financial stability but also put a strain on their work performance.

In fact, almost 32% of them demonstrated reduced levels of productivity due to the psychological distress they are experiencing. Meanwhile, at least 24% reported skipping work due to the crippling effects of mental disorders. Anxiety, stress, and depression can even drive employees to throw in the towel. Research shows that 50% of Millennials and 75% of Gen Z have quit their jobs because of their mental conditions.

Luckily, companies can do something to reduce and prevent these mental health-related cases. For employees to overcome their mental health problems, companies should make an effort to create a conducive environment for them. As a matter of fact, more than 50% of employees prefer companies that put a premium on their mental wellness above all else. How can companies put emphasis on employee mental well-being?

Reshaping Office Culture

Employers should make the workplace a safe place to discuss mental health concerns. Many employees do not talk about their conditions nor pursue professional help because of the stigma of mental health. The truth of the matter is, there are companies that are not welcoming of employees with mental health issues. Almost 8% of employers give employees the ax upon finding out that they have psychological problems. People are also afraid to come forward because of the judgment from their colleagues and the potential loss of work opportunities such as promotion.

That is why it’s important for companies to create a supportive environment for employees. Organizations should initiate open conversations on mental health concerns without judgment and discrimination. Ernst & Young is one of the few companies that champion employee well-being. In 2016, the company launched a program that encourages conversations about mental health. Aside from that, Ernst & Young provided employees with services that would help them overcome their personal problems through virtual consultations and peer-mentorship activities. Surprisingly, many employees took part in the mental health assistance program.

Unilever is another company that knows how to value the well-being of their employees. This company facilitates regular in-person workshops and training for its staff and managers alike, believing that a high-performing company needs healthy employees. It’s one of their goals to create an office culture that understands the concept of mental health and tries to extend the necessary assistance employees need. Aside from company-hosted programs, Unilever also launched an application that gives their employees access to information about mental health. Employees can also use the said app for urgent concerns and immediate health assistance. When companies foster an environment that is accepting of their conditions, employees won’t be afraid to confront their issues and seek the professional assistance they need.

Finding Areas of Improvement

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Moreover, organizations should make adjustments to the working conditions of their employees with mental health problems. If they truly recognize the importance of their employees’ psychological well-being, companies should know how to tailor their culture to accommodate their special needs. Of course, part of showing them support is helping them overcome their mental problems. Some of the most common requests of people with mental health concerns are the following: change of schedule, work leave, reduced workload, and telecommuting. These are some ways that could help employees ease their mental issues, allow them to recuperate, and prevent aggravating their mental conditions. Whether it’s playing in their in-house bowling alley or just taking time off work, employees with mental health problems also need time away from stressors.

Employers should also assess how they can improve their structure, company culture, and their style of management. For example, they should look into the amount of workload of their employees. Companies should make sure it is manageable and suitable for their mental and emotional capacity. They should be aware that excessive workload can worsen the psychological issues of employees, so this is something they should also take into consideration. In addition, employers should prioritize their personal development. When companies invest in employees’ growth, they are more likely to show improved performance and a positive attitude towards their work, thus, reducing the number of mental health stressors.

Indeed, employers should encourage healthy conversations on mental health concerns, provide access to professional help, make adjustments to their working conditions, and offer the needed resources that could help their employees overcome their personal crises. They have to understand that for the company to function at their very best, their employees should be at their healthiest state. If anything, they should take care of their employees and prioritize the holistic well-being they need and deserve.