3 Ways to Support Employee Mental Health

Khadeeja Zaman

Work occupies a large portion of our life, in terms of both time and effort. Since we spend a major part of our day at work, it becomes imperative that the work we do makes us feel fulfilled. Employers need to make mental health a priority in order to retain employees, reduce unexplained absenteeism, and maintain higher productivity levels. This can be done by building a sense of engagement in your team.

World over, mental health is gaining momentum as a public issue. It is about time we deem it important enough to discuss in the workplace context. No matter how much we love our work, it is bound to bring in stress and challenges. More often than not, our personal struggles get in the way of our performance at work. As an employer you need to be well-versed with keeping a positive working space for your employees. There are ways to keep a pulse on your team’s mental health and become a catalyst for change.

In order to feel more equipped in dealing with the mental health of your employees, you need to be mindful of the following:

1. Generate meaningfulness

Work should be personally meaningful to your team. Ensure than the KPI’s match each individual’s personal goals. Studies suggest that employees who find work directly related to their personal goals rate higher in deriving a psychological meaning from their work. There should be something beyond the paycheck that one should gain from their work. What you do for a living should be personally fulfilling, only then you can have a sense of wellbeing and fulfilment.

A simple exercise can be done in this regard where each employee is asked to find a connection between how their respective KPI’s relate to their personal goals, and in turn connect with the greater organizational vision. This creative exercise can help foster a deeper sense of meaning and purpose along with increasing engagement in employees.

2. Positive psychological climate

A recent study on Nepali IT professionals asserts that the psychological climate of the organization sets the tone for psychological wellbeing at work. One’s perceptions about organizational environment influences our attitudes, feelings and motivation towards the organization. A positive psychological climate is said to retain employees by making them feel more engaged to their work.

It is also linked with feeling fulfilled and perceiving not only your work but also the environment to be supportive. A lot of employees leave their jobs not because of their work, but because of the psychological climate.

Create an environment of trust.

Empower your team to support each other in times of distress. As a leader, keep a pulse on the emotions of the team. Encourage each other to reach out and have an open conversation about mental health struggles. During an office break stir up a candid discussion about how you faced a mental health challenge due to work stress or anything relatable, just to break the ice about mental health. You will find others following suit.

3. Make it a priority

Recognize the need for a mental health day. Employees should be able to talk about their mental health needs without guilt or shame. Taking a day off for looking after your mental health should not be a taboo. It is normal to have rough days, and our reactions to employees underperforming due to stress, anxiety, depression should also be normal.

A research study by a UK based mental health charity – Mind, shows 30% of the employees disagreed with the statement ‘I would feel able to talk openly with my line manager if I was feeling stressed’. This should not be the case at your organization. Your employees would be more likely to be engaged at work if you make their psychological wellbeing a top priority.

You cannot go wrong by investing in the wellbeing of your employees as it’s a win-win situation. Let’s join hands and pledge to make mental wellbeing an integral part of our daily discourse at work.

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