Managing mental health and wellbeing at workplaces

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mental health

BY EMMANUEL ZVADA
MENTAL health may never be a comfortable subject to discuss though it has always been a concern for HR professionals and employers.

Regardless of the source, when mental health issues affect employees, it affects their work.

Workplaces that promote mental health and support people with mental disorders are more likely to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity and benefit from a lot its employees.

What is mental health and wellbeing?

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel and act.

It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.

Workplace wellbeing relates to all aspects of working life from the quality and safety of the physical environment to how workers feel about their work, their working environment, the climate at work and work organisation.

Mental health problems have an impact on employers and businesses directly through increased absenteeism, negative impact on productivity and profits.

Why mental health and welbeing

Professionals are spending more hours “at work” than ever before because of the evolving nature of business priorities coupled with how connected we are today.

Failure to control mental health is can lead to work-related stresses and will end up causing occupational ill-health, poor productivity and human error.

This means increased sickness absence, high staff turnover and poor performance in the organisation and a possible increase in accidents due to human error.

The main objective is to create an environment to promote a state of contentment which allows an employee to flourish and achieve their full potential for the benefit of themselves and their organisation.

Improving mental health and wellbeing in the workplace

Good mental health at work and good management go hand-in-hand and there is strong evidence that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are more productive.

It is very important for employers to take more responsibility for the mental health and well-being of their people.

Here are simple things that organisations can do to create a mentally healthy workplace:

Create an open, inclusive and accepting culture

Employees need to believe that their organisation provides a positive and inclusive working environment and trust that they will be provided with the support they need.

Employers must create a culture that supports inclusivity and champion that culture daily.

So, from the outset, employers must make it clear that any mental health and well-being issue employees wish to discuss will always be treated with confidentiality, respect and understanding.

Leaders have a responsibility to champion good mental health in the workplace by showing that they are committed to creating a culture that is both understanding and supportive of their employees.

Create a healthy work environment

The work environment is known to have a significant impact on employee’s mental wellness, productivity, job turnover and profits.

Leaders can influence a healthy workplace environment by having an open-door policy, keeping employees informed of developments, departmental changes, business goals and policies.

These provide direction, build trust, and reduce employee stress.

There are also top-down policy changes that may benefit your workforce, including flex time so employees can exercise and attend to personal needs while also completing a full day of work, and work-from-home options, whether it’s a full shift to a home office or one or two days per week.

Run mental health and wellbeing initiatives

Creating proactive options that help people improve and maintain their mental health day-to-day is key to helping employees flourish as far as mental health and wellbeing initiatives are concerned.

Regular initiatives help to promote the importance of mental health and well-being in the workplace.

Workplace well-being programmes

The wellbeing of your workers is what makes or breaks the business’s long-term success.

Deflated, overworked staff deliver low quality work and lack commitment to the business, hence having workplace programmes can be the panacea.

  •  Emmanuel Zvada is a human capital consultant and international recruitment expert