Are your employees chronically stressed? How many of your employees are suffering from anxiety? Do they feel depressed? These questions are difficult to answer. When someone is dealing with a mental illness, it’s sometimes not obvious. The symptoms of depression, stress, anxiety, and other mental disorders can be disguised or misunderstood, just like a cold or broken leg.
People are reluctant to talk about mental illness at work, which can make matters worse. Although awareness is increasing and celebrities are starting to share their stories, stigma still persists. Employers must create an environment that supports mental health training. Employees who are experiencing mental distress can feel secure and encouraged to improve their mental health by providing the right resources and creating a culture that values psychological well-being.
Many of us will spend a quarter to a full third of our lives at work. We will spend more time at work than we do at home and have more interaction with our colleagues than with family members. Workplace culture, work expectations, work support and work rewards are key factors in job satisfaction and productivity. To remain competitive and meet external needs, organizations rely on a highly engaged and productive workforce.
When it comes to employee wellbeing, many organizations fail. Although it is great that many corporate programs emphasize employee wellness through benefits such as prescription drug coverage and dental plans, this is only half of the story. Our brains are equally important to our health, especially when we consider the negative effects mental illness can have on our physical health, including increased blood pressure, hormonal imbalances and increased risk of developing cancer.
Before the COVID-19 crisis began, mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and stress were common. They are a major cause of decreased well-being, leading to a lot of absenteeism and reduced productivity. The World Health Organization has designated employee burnout as a medical condition in 2019, pointing out that it is caused by chronic workplace stress.
Supporting employee mental health can have many benefits:
Increased productivity: Nearly 86 percent of people who have been diagnosed with depression have reported an improvement in their work performance. Some studies have shown that treatment for depression can reduce absenteism and presenteism by as much as 40% to 60%.
Reduced costs for health care and disability: According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), rates of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases are twice as common in people with serious mental illnesses.
Retention is better: Many employees are being trained to do a job. It is important that these employees stay with your company and you have fewer employees who leave.
A healthy workplace is one that supports and values employees, creates a positive environment, and respects other aspects of the person’s life.
How to make your workplace a happy place
A well-lit, clean and functional space. All staff should have a good working relationship. Employees feel valued, appreciated, incentivized and rewarded. There are no signs of intimidation, bullying or sexual harassment.
Employees and employers must work together to find reasonable accommodations (not special treatments) for employees with mental and physical disabilities in the workplace. It can range from changing work schedules and working hours to using interpreters or technologically-adapted equipment.
Transparency is key to ensuring that communication flows smoothly. Open communication is key to creating a productive and energetic workforce that feels invested in the company.
A healthy workplace requires two people. Employers must have a positive attitude, be able to work with others and be open to learning from each other.