Improving Mental Health
Employee mental health issues are rising, and COVID-19 presented unprecedented challenges in workers’ professional and personal lives. In the U.S., workers have seen a 45% spike in COVID-related mental health issues. These mental health issues affect an employee’s ability to work, lowering job productivity by as much as 35%. While March 2020 is long behind us, the long-term impact of the pandemic on employee engagement is unfolding before us. Employee engagement is a challenge for companies as the shock of the pandemic continues to impact the way we work. As a result, companies must address team members’ difficulties to grow employee engagement.
Mental health matters to employee engagement, but how can your organization tackle both? As we learned in Part 1 of Employee Engagement, employee engagement occurs when all team members genuinely want to see the company succeed. They are emotionally invested in their company. Engaged employees demonstrate a commitment to achieving the company’s goals and are connected to the company’s mission.
Here are a few ways managers can support wellness and keep their team engaged with organizational goals:
Encourage Healthy Work-Life Balance
Leadership should model a healthy work-life balance. Balance is crucial for remote workers who are already finding that the lines between work and home life have blurred. Employees should feel empowered and encouraged to set boundaries for “unplugging” at the end of their workday. Be flexible when employees need to take care of their health or families. Communicate clear expectations about unplugging after work hours, taking breaks throughout the day, and taking paid time off work to recharge.
Destigmatize Mental Health at Work
The CDC reports that only half of employees who experience depression disclose it at all. The way to destigmatize mental health in the workplace is by openly talking about it. Management should lead by example and foster healthy conversations around their own experience with mental and emotional health. It can be as simple as sharing their efforts to improve their mental health, like morning walks or taking a break from social media. These discussions signal to employees that leadership cares about wellness and helps employees to take care of themselves. It acknowledges that we are all vulnerable, which promotes a sense of communal safety.
Build Trust at Work
Trust is a critical component of employee engagement. A lack of trust leads to workplace conflict that impacts employees’ mental wellbeing. However, there are many ways a company can build trust. Establishing trust depends on holding leaders accountable for their promises and commitments. Your management team can foster trust by training on the consequences of micromanaging, encouraging autonomy, and trusting employees to do their job independently. But trust is also about creating real relationships in the workplace that aren’t related to work itself. A Gallup study found that employees who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged. Creating a work environment that encourages employees to connect with their coworkers effectively improves employee engagement.
Train Employees to Manage Their Mental Health
Engaging in work is impossible if employees are distracted by mental health concerns. Even if employees don’t have a diagnosed mental health condition, stress and anxiety can significantly increase engagement levels. Teaching employees how to manage their everyday well-being ensures that they have the resources to stay engaged and happy.
The more employees understand mental health, the better their chances of managing it before it hurts their engagement. Try Implementing an employee mental health program that gives team members the skills to cope and manage their well-being.
Wellness programs are not one-size-fits-all. Each team has different needs and concerns. So it’s vital to implement a program that actively engages employees.