When it comes to mental health, no one can deny how long we have come. With more people trying to normalize the conversation and encourage others to speak up we are closer than ever before to diminishing the stigma surrounding it. However, there still some shadow looming over talking about the importance of mental health in businesses.
But now that the pandemic has left many jobless, burnout and unmotivated, will companies finally realize the importance of shedding light on mental health in the workplace?
It is crucial for businesses to take a look at the environment and work culture they are promoting. Are they addressing mental health in the right way? Are they creating a safe space for their employees to communicate their needs? In fact, according to a report by McKinsey, even after companies started implementing measures to support their employees following the pandemic, only 1 in 6 felt more supported. In addition, 94% of employees in UAE say that their companies should be doing more to support and preserve their employees’ mental health. Not only that, but it is reported that 77% said they preferred talking to a robot about their mental health than their own manager! While we cannot deny that many companies have come a long way in terms of providing mental health tools for their employees, these numbers are still alarming and more proactive efforts should be made in order to make employees feel supported and heard.
Here are 5 things you can do to foster a work culture that supports and understands the importance of mental health:
1. Create an open environment
One of the most important things that can encourage employees to speak up is when employers open their door to mental health conversations. Chances are your team will not feel comfortable speaking up if they do not feel like they will be heard. Simply checking in on them and asking them how they are doing can go a long way. In addition, leaders who are able to talk about their own struggles, admit to taking mental health days and openly encourage it can be a great starter for employees to follow in their footsteps.
2. Organize mental wellbeing events and activities
Fostering a collaborative community can help your employees feel like they have a support system. Setting up a group activity that promotes mental wellbeing like meditation, yoga or even just a walk in nature can go a long way. If businesses are aiming for something easier to do, a simple check-in session with your employees can make them feel heard and supported.
3. Provide access to mental health tools
Many are beginning to utilize mobile applications and the internet to introduce mental wellbeing apps that can help people navigate through a rough time. Leaders can work on having a reference for mental health resources that employees can turn to in times of need. Not only that, employers can also go the extra mile and invest in paying for therapy sessions or in bringing an in-house counselor.
4. Take a look at your policies
Companies with rigid policies that treat employees like robots are already indirectly saying “all we care about is you doing your job, regardless of how you feel”. These ways of working have been long gone. And let me tell you something, from personal experience I can say, when my employer does not treat me like a human with emotions and mental capacities, I drop the hammer and lose motivation. Therefore, it is imperative for companies to take a look at their policies and work on integrating regulations that support mental health days. Offering mental health days can be a great start to show your community that you believe in the importance of taking care of your mental health.
5. Listen, appreciate and be kind
We all know that kindness and appreciation can go a long way. For instance, I remember a time where I felt demotivated and unappreciated at work, and a random “you are doing a great job, keep going” from my manager gave me the boost I needed to get back in the game. Looking at employees through a more humane lens and acknowledging that they are more than just the work they do will not only create a better work culture but you will also be able to reap the benefits of having a productive and happy workforce!
Employers, organizations and leaders have a responsibility towards their employees to create a safe workplace that does not only guarantee their physical wellbeing but also their emotional and mental wellbeing.
World Mental Health Day should be recognized not only, in schools and homes, but at the workplace too.
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