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  • Writer's pictureLindsay Johnson

How to Improve Mental Health in the Workplace: A Guide for Employers

9 strategies you can implement today to improve employee mental health.



Employee mental health at work is not a trend - it’s a necessity that requires constant investment. The better you care for your employees, the better they’ll care for you.


Research shows that happy employees are, on average, 13% more productive. 


Meanwhile, each year, an estimated 12 billion working days are lost to depression and anxiety, costing $1 trillion per year in lost productivity, according to the World Health Organization


So how do you take care of your employees' mental health? We highlight how to start the conversation and what strategies to implement in this blog post.


How to talk about mental health at work

It can be difficult for your employees to talk about mental health at work. Your job as an employer is to create a safe space where your employees feel comfortable asking for help when needed.


An excellent place to start, though, is to open the conversation. When upper management starts the conversation, it makes it easier for employees to talk about mental health. 


But that’s the first step in a series of much larger steps. In this article, we go into more detail on how to encourage employees to talk about mental health at work.



What Can Employers Do to Support Mental Health?


Upskill managers and company leaders

Your company leadership plays a big role in promoting a culture of positive mental health. Despite this, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) found that 7 in 10 senior-level employees have not received training about how to talk to their team about mental health.


It’s important to provide the necessary training for your company leaders to recognize signs of stress, burnout, and mental health issues so they can best support employees.


Further, incorporating mental health training may reduce staff turnover and overall absenteeism. 


Offer flexible scheduling 

While the jury is still out on whether or not remote work is the most productive for employees, it’s difficult to deny that a flexible schedule has its place.


Remote or hybrid working allows employees with caregiving responsibilities to work from home or whenever needed. 


Moreover, remote work will also reduce absenteeism. For example, if an employee's child is sick and cannot go to school, an employee can still work from home, when perhaps in the past, they would have to stay home from work.


While you don’t need to shift to working exclusively from home or in the office, it’s worth examining your current scheduling and seeing where you can improve.


Focus more on outcomes vs. hours worked

Instead of measuring hours worked, focus on outcomes. 


This shift in mindset and procedure can help reduce employee stress and burnout. It can also improve productivity.


According to Cal Newport, associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University and New York Times best-selling author, Newport suggests an upper limit of 4 hours of deep work per day in his book Deep Work.


That’s no distraction work—no checking emails, no context shifting, just work. You can split this into four 1 hour or two 2 hour sessions with adequate breaks in between.


Even if you don’t follow the deliberate deep work practice, be cautious of how many hours of productive work is realistic per day. Educating your employees on the deep work method can help avoid burnout and increase productivity.


Offer subscriptions to mental health apps

There are numerous mental health apps that you can buy on a company plan. Usually, the plans are priced per number of employees (e.g., PEPM = per employee per month). 


These apps can help support employee mental health and provide exercises to combat poor mental health. They also often encourage healthy habits. For example, the FitPros LIVE Platform lets employees tune in to live guided meditation and movement sessions daily. You can even host interactive challenges to encourage your workers to get more active and make healthier choices.


Educate your employees on mental health

As well as upskilling managers and company leaders, educate your employees on mental health.


Send a clear message that wellbeing and mental health matter, and raise awareness and start a discussion around mental health at work.


Education can include knowing how to spot signs of burnout, how to improve sleep, set boundaries at work, nutrition for performance, and exercise and its many benefits. 


Tackle the root cause of mental health problems at work

No matter how many initiatives you add, if you don’t tackle the root cause of mental health problems at work, issues will persist. 


Below, you will find a list of common causes of mental health problems at work:


  • Working too many hours 

  • No breaks during the work day

  • Lack of social interaction 

  • Unable to take annual leave because employees are too busy

  • Poor internal communication

  • Job insecurity

  • Unrealistic expectations and deadlines

  • Overly pressured work environments  


Mind calls this “taking stock.” By taking stock of your employees’ wellbeing, you have a much more coherent picture of what’s going on at work so you can implement the necessary changes to improve mental health and general wellbeing. 


One way to uncover root causes is to send out anonymous employee surveys. Ask employees what causes them stress and troubles their mental health. You can also ask how they deal with stress and mental health issues to gain a better understanding of their current education on mental health, enabling you to better tailor your mental health education to help your employees get the most out of it.


FitPros will facilitate surveys for our clients and prescribe recommended programming based on the employee feedback.


Promote a healthy work/life harmony

Saying your organization has a healthy work/life integration and actually having harmony of the two are two entirely separate things. 


If you want to promote a healthy work/life harmony, it’s important for upper management to lead by example. You can’t say employees can leave the office (virtual or in person) at 5 pm, but then upper management works late everyday.


Encourage employees to:


  • Take full lunch breaks

  • Not work weekends

  • Take regular breaks during the work day

  • Ask for help when they have too much on their plate

  • Take advantage of their annual leave 

  • Get plenty of rest

  • Leave work at a normal time

  • Occasionally handle personal errands during the work day

Continue the conversation

Employees who are less comfortable talking about their mental health at work are more likely to report feeling burnout, with their mental health suffering because of work. The same is also true for managers who feel their workplace isn’t giving them the proper resources to discuss mental health, as reported by NAMI


Mental health at work is not a one and done task. As an employer, it’s your task to continue the conversation. Work on removing the stigma surrounding talking about mental health and begin to ingrain a positive mental health culture at work.


Create a space where employees and managers feel comfortable talking about mental health and asking for help when they need it. Provide the resources and implement strategies and incentives for your employees to thrive at and outside of work.



Conclusion: Listen to what your employees need and implement the changes


The best way to improve your employee mental health is to tailor your wellness program to your employees' needs and wants.


To do this, conduct anonymous surveys to see your organization's current state of mental health. Use this data to implement the necessary changes to best support your employees.


Alternatively, contact FitPros, and we’ll take care of everything for you, creating a tailor-made wellness program with mental health at the forefront. 



FAQs


How to help an employee who is struggling with mental health?

To help an employee who is struggling with mental health, ask how you can help. Find the cause of the problem (too much work, burnout, etc.) and seek solutions.


How do you manage mental health while working?

To better manage mental health while working, take regular breaks, focus on outcomes rather than hours worked, set healthy boundaries, and ask for help when you need it.


How can HR support mental health?

HR can signpost mental health resources, including therapists and mental health apps, if provided by the organization. Employers should train HR and upper management on how to deal with mental health at work.


What can trigger poor mental health at work? 

Lots of things can trigger poor mental health at work, including taking on too much work, working too many hours with not enough breaks, a lack of sleep and physical activity, a hostile or toxic work environment, and more.



Join FitPros live 

At FitPros, we provide workplace wellbeing solutions and activities to help support your employees' health and happiness. We’re trusted by world-leading companies such as Forbes, Grammarly, Tik Tok, and Discord.


We implement Blue Zone habits into our programs, including daily movement with our fitness classes and yoga sessions, build meaningful relationships with our team building activities, and educate your employees on how to improve their health and happiness with our health talks.


Join our workplace wellness subscription, FitPros Live, for daily content every day. Employees can drop in whenever and you can track employee attendance and engagement to see the real-time effect of our wellness solutions.


Want to learn more? Book a demo today

Author: Lindsay Johnson, CEO and Founder of FitPros




 

FitPros is a turn-key wellness provider empowering people to take charge of their personal health.



Contact FitPros to diversify your company’s wellbeing offerings and help employees meet their health & fitness goals.


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