Mental health can differ between a happy, productive workplace and a toxic one. More than 160 million people are a part of the US workforce today, with every employee spending an average of half their conscious life at the office. These employees may face workplace mental health issues, which can be devastating.
That’s why this article will help you create an environment that supports mental wellness, which means fewer sick days and happier employees who feel supported in their work.
How to Create a Supportive Culture
Many employees face mental health problems. Results of a recent report concluded that around 76% of the US workforce reported at least one mental illness symptom in 2021. As the business owner, manager, or colleague, you can help these employees by fostering a supportive culture. To create a supportive culture, you must foster an environment where employees feel comfortable talking about anything. This includes their mental health, personal lives, and families.
Here are some tips to help you create a supportive culture at your workplace.
Promote Open Communication and Trust
Open communication is one of the most critical aspects of workplace culture. It allows you to share your feelings and thoughts, which can help improve your mental health. Trust is also crucial; if you don’t trust your boss or coworkers, it can be hard to feel comfortable talking openly about anything at work.
To create an open environment where employees are free to express themselves:
- Encourage everyone in the office to talk about any topic they want. It doesn’t have to be related directly to work. For example, if someone wants advice on getting over their ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, let them know that it’s okay for him/her to ask questions like this around other people too.
- If someone brings up something personal during one of these conversations, offer solutions so that person doesn’t feel alone when facing those challenges ahead.
- Have group meals once in a while so that everyone can bond with each other. This will help your staff network and socialize, improving team bonding and mental health.
Planning a group meal isn’t difficult. You can simply select a restaurant and give a group order for some great dishes and get it through DoorDash or Grubhub. However, there are chances that your order will get canceled. According to CaterCow, although very rare, your DoorDash or Grubhub order can get canceled if the restaurant is unaware of the items you need beforehand.
Hence, contacting a vendor who can give the restaurants a heads-up when selecting the dishes you want to order is advised. This way, as soon as your employees choose a dish from the website, the restaurant will know that a potential order is coming so that your group order in DoorDash is not canceled.
Ensure High Employee Engagement
To create a supportive culture for mental wellness, you need to start with employee engagement. In 2022, 65% of US employees were not engaged. Employee engagement is about how connected your employees feel to their organization, its mission, and their sense of purpose. It’s not about how connected they are with their manager or anyone else in the company.
Employee engagement is strongly linked with job satisfaction and performance. It predicts whether employees will stay at a company long-term. In most cases, when people leave jobs early because they’re unhappy or don’t like what they do anymore, they cite a lack of meaning in their work as one of the top reasons why they didn’t stick around longer than expected.
Encouraging Work-Life Balance and Flexibility
To ensure employees get the support they need, creating a supportive culture that encourages work-life balance is essential. Flexibility is critical for achieving this goal, and there are many ways you can provide flexibility for your employees:
- Flexible scheduling gives employees more control over their work hours and days off. This can be achieved through telecommuting or job sharing, where two people share one position rather than having two different positions entirely.
- Part-time employment allows workers who want less responsibility or fewer hours than full-time employment but still want some income from their employer. This type of job also gives employers access to highly qualified candidates who may be unable to work full-time due to family obligations or other factors outside their control.
- Family leave provides paid time off when an employee needs it most, such as after giving birth or adopting a child, so they don’t have any financial hardship while recovering physically/emotionally from pregnancy/birth-related issues, caring for newborns, bonding with adopted children, etc. According to the Family Medical Leave Act, a company should provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a year to care for a newborn or adopted child or one’s sickness.
Foster a Non-Judgmental and Inclusive Environment
The first step to creating a supportive culture is encouraging staff members to be open about their mental health. If you want your employees to feel comfortable discussing their struggles, you must model this behavior and ensure that other managers do the same.
When an employee goes through something difficult, such as losing a loved one or going through a breakup, it’s essential that they feel comfortable sharing their experiences with others at work so they don’t feel isolated or alone. Ensuring all employees feel included in the conversation can help create an environment where people are comfortable coming forward if they need help or support with their mental health issues.
This also means ensuring no one feels judged for what they’re going through, including management. It may sound obvious, but sometimes even bosses can forget how important it is not only for them but also for everyone else in the office when someone opens up about something personal like this.
Recognize and Addressing Stigma Surrounding Mental Health
The first step in addressing the stigma surrounding mental health is to recognize its existence. Most people don’t talk about their mental health, and this silence can hinder treatment. By openly acknowledging that stigma exists, you can help reduce the fear of being stigmatized or judged by others.
Talking about your own experiences with mental illness can also help other employees feel comfortable coming forward with their struggles, leading to a more supportive environment overall. Educating yourself on the causes and effects of stigma will also help you develop strategies for reducing it at work.
Finally, helping others understand why they should care about reducing stigma may be one of your most important tasks, especially if you’re working in an organization where few people have experienced these issues firsthand.
Provide Resources and Support
To create a supportive culture, you can provide resources and support for your employees. This includes:
- A confidential employee assistance program (EAP) provides employees access to mental health professionals available 24/7, 365 days a year.
- Mental health first aid training so staff members know how to respond in an emergency.
- Peer support programs help employees connect on an emotional level and encourage them to ask for help when needed.
We hope this article has helped you to better understand the importance of mental wellness in the workplace and how it can affect your employees. By creating an environment where people feel comfortable talking about their mental health, employers can help promote positive change within their organizations.
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