Mental Health in the Workplace: Creating a Positive Environment

Creating a positive work environment is a good thing. In fact, in today’s fast-paced and demanding workplace, it’s critical to prioritize mental health and well-being. While that may be the case, it’s also important to understand how to do this. What steps and strategies can you implement to make a difference and create an improved workplace that supports positive mental health?

You can create a positive work environment that promotes mental health and supports employee well-being. To do that, consider these valuable strategies.

Foster Open Communication

Communication is the backbone of success in every working relationship, which is very much true regarding mental health. Ensure that employees and management can communicate openly about concerns and needs. Your employees should feel comfortable discussing any concerns they have, whether related to the work environment or the work itself.

To support employees, create an environment where they can talk to each other without fear of judgment or reprisal. By making it a company policy, ensure they know that open communication is the goal and that you and your management team support this promise.

State Clear Expectations

It’s often the case that employees want to do a good job. They strive to do well, but that does not mean they know what they could do better. Create clear expectations for each job and task you set. Then, be sure to provide constructive feedback on a routine basis that helps the employee to improve. Feedback isn’t a bad thing. Rather, ensure they know you want them to improve and make the most of their position.

Employees who know what is expected of them are more likely to feel a sense of purpose. That also means they feel valued for what they contribute to the company. Ultimately, this leads to better job satisfaction.

Offer Flexibility

It’s also important for companies to have clear policies on work arrangements. If and when possible, provide flexibility to your employees. Ensure they have access to remote work opportunities, flexible schedules to meet their childcare needs, and the ability to alter their schedule when it works for all involved, to fit changing circumstances.

This does not work in all work environments, but in those where it is possible, it can comprehensively change the relationship between employees and employers. It can help employees to balance their work and personal life better. That directly leads to a better sense of well-being. It also helps to contribute to the value of the workplace in their lives – they know their employer cares.

Provide Resources

It’s not enough to create an environment that feels positive. Even in these situations, employees could struggle with mental health needs, which often leads to complications in their personal lives and at work.

For this reason, companies should offer resources to support mental health needs. That includes Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) or mental health services. When employees are struggling with mental health issues, they need help getting the care necessary to work through those challenges. While things like offering a day off or a shoulder to cry on help, they do not replace the value and benefit of professional care.

From an employer’s standpoint, you can provide resources to your employees to support them in these situations. Your employees can turn to these resources whenever they are struggling and need assistance. Be sure to put in place these programs and then educate your team about their availability. They should know how to reach out for help without having to ask their employer for that personal information.

Encourage Self Care

Employers cannot provide enough self-care to treat mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. However, they can offer tools and strategies to enable better overall access to simple things that can relieve stress. Encourage your employees to practice self-care that works for your team and their unique needs. This may include taking breaks throughout the day, getting outdoors for a walk and some sunshine during lunch, or getting some type of physical activity throughout their lives.

Prioritizing their mental health means encouraging them to do what works to meet their needs. For example, for some employees, that may mean getting some time away from the office during the middle of the day, especially if it has been stressful. For others, it may mean a night with friends laughing at a good movie.

Consider offering wellness programs that can encourage this type of self-care. For example, you can sponsor local yoga workout programs. You can create a lunch that offers a meditation class a few times a week. The key here is to find resources that your employees value.

Lead by Example

All of these tools are fantastic for your employees, but they apply to you, too. If you want them to engage, you need to do the same. Model the behavior you want to see in your employees. Encourage healthy work-life balance and take steps to promote your own mental health and well-being.

Supporting your employees’ mental health can improve job satisfaction, productivity, and engagement. It also helps you become an employer that cares about your team's success and overall well-being. It’s the right thing to do and benefits your business at the same time.

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