Make Employee Mental Health a Priority
The workplace is where we spend most of our time. It is a place where we make friends and make a living. Having a good job can lead to good mental health and well-being. But, other times, work can be the cause of stress and poor mental health, which can lead to absenteeism, presenteeism or workplace conflicts. However, managers can do a number of things to encourage employees to speak up about their mental health.
Creating an open and supportive workplace culture is the key; a place where people feel like they can come forward about their mental health. Whether it is checking in with your team or encouraging them to come to you, there is a lot that you can do as a manager to support your employees in feeling more comfortable coming to you.
Here are some tips:
Normalize mental health. Employees often don’t feel safe opening up about their mental health, especially to their employer. Talking openly about mental health in your office and meetings with staff normalizes it as a regular topic of conversation. Make sure that they are aware that you want to support them. Ask open-ended, non-judgmental questions to learn more about their needs.
Have resources ready. Have a mixture of resources on hand to provide employees who share they are struggling with stress or mental health concerns. Resources can include information about benefits and support available to employees, such as personal counselling or work/life consultation services through the Employee Assistance Program, workplace policies such as sick or compassionate leave, or accommodation policies.
Maintain confidentiality. Stigma and concerns about being stigmatized by sharing mental health struggles can get in the way of individuals seeking support. As a manager, make sure employees know that what they share about their mental health with you will be kept confidential. This kind of information is sensitive and should be shared with as few people as possible and only with the employee’s permission.
Support work-life balance. Today, technology and remote work have made it more and more challenging to unplug and get needed downtime from work. Employees and employers alike are seeing the line blurred between work and personal life. When putting in the extra hours, or taking on extra shifts due to being short-staffed, becomes a habit, an employee’s personal life and well-being can begin to suffer. Employees should be encouraged to take their meal breaks and take the vacation time they are allocated. This doesn’t mean an employee is never allowed to work late; however, if you notice they are regularly working work beyond their required hours, it might be time to check in to see how they are managing and whether they need help. Remember, employees follow their manager’s lead. If you’re sending emails on weekends or during your holidays, they assume you want them to do the same.