Your employees are one of the most important aspects of your company. This is why many companies offer health care packages as part of employee compensation. While employee healthcare plans typically include mental health services such as psychiatry and counseling, there’s more you can do.
Employee Mental Health & Productivity
As a business owner, your primary focus is on turning a profit and making money. And that’s why the mental health of your employees is so very important.
According to the World Health Organization, common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety cost as much as $1 trillion annually in lost productivity.
So before you start wondering how much it’s going to cost, you might want to start thinking about how much of that trillion-dollar pie you’re already losing.
In this article, we’ll go over a handful of evidence-supported methods that companies can implement to help protect the mental health of their employees.
1. Distribute Workloads Appropriately
In general, having a job is good for mental health. But that doesn’t mean all work environments are good.
Ensuring that your employees are all empowered (and required) to do their fair share of the work is paramount to a healthy environment. Sure, it’s easy to go to the same “yes-man” every time a new task pops up, but that’s usually not the best option.
When one employee feels like they’re pulling more than the rest, that employee is likely to grow resentful of the organization. Eventually, they develop hostile feelings towards coworkers and management – and this can be downright dangerous.
Conversely, employees that fly under the radar with little work to do can also feel as if they’re untrusted for big projects. This leads to self esteem problems and depression. Those employees may even develop attendance problems since they feel they’re un-needed.
2. Do Periodic Casual 1 on 1 Meetings
One of the best things you can do for your employees is to open the door for them to voice their concerns. Unfortunately, feedback is typically one-way. If your company still subscribes to the idea of the dreaded “annual review”, it’s not likely that you’re going to hear an employee voice a concern. These reviews tend to be in preparation for possible raises and no employee is going to jeopardize that by speaking about their own issues during that process. The annual review is largely a waste of time anyway.
Consider having a casual once a month meeting with each of your employees. In these meetings you should focus on how the employee feels about their career path and whether they’re happy with their current duties & workload. This is valuable information for an employer and it gives the employee an outlet for change if they’re unhappy.
3. Provide Telework Options
Telework has become the new gold standard benefit for many job seekers. There’s good reason for this. Employees consider in-office distractions as one of the most significant barriers to productivity. And there’s evidence to support it.
Telework provides an employee with a much better work/life balance. This is a key to good mental health.
In addition, the stress reduction that comes with not having to commute through traffic contributes to a more stable mental state.
4. Partner With a Therapy Provider
A major way to improve the mental health of someone is ensuring they have someone to talk to. That means someone trained on dealing with mental health issues.
Consider providing options for counseling or therapy to your employees. A great way to do this is by partnering with an online therapy provider.
5. Create Events Outside the Office
Building relationships among the team is critical to a healthy work environment. The best way to build those relationships is outside the office.
Forget the team building exercises. Provide happy hour evenings or take the team to local sporting events. Whatever you do, make sure it’s not work-related.
Ensure that you’re planning events that don’t encourage shop talk. Allow your employees to get to know each other outside the office.
As an employer, it may seem that providing mental health assistance to your employees is a costly proposition. The truth is that it costs much more not to provide it.
By focusing on the health of your employees, you’ll enjoy a lower turnover rate and higher productivity. Both of these translate to more profit.
Providing for your workers’ mental health is good for everyone.
Sources & Additional Reading
1. World Health Organization: Mental Health in the Workplace
2. Forbes: Performance Reviews are Pointless and Insulting — So Why Do They Still Exist?
3. ezTalks: 6 Benefits of Teleworking for Employers & Employees
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