Easy but crucial actions you must take to build a mentally healthy workplace - Hindustan Times

Easy but crucial actions you must take to build a mentally healthy workplace

ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi
May 26, 2023 01:42 PM IST

Building a mentally healthy workplace is essential for success of the company and well-being of employees. Here are steps to build a mentally healthy workplace

In terms of overall health and welfare, work can have an enormous impact because though work brings meaning, structure and purpose to your life besides the monetary benefits and we also benefit from a sense of identity but working in a negative environment can have the opposite effect, which can be detrimental to our emotional and mental health. Hence, it is essential to prioritise the mental well-being of employees as a mentally healthy workplace not only benefits employees but also leads to increased productivity and overall success.

Easy but crucial actions you must take to build a mentally healthy workplace (Photo by Husna Miskandar on Unsplash)
Easy but crucial actions you must take to build a mentally healthy workplace (Photo by Husna Miskandar on Unsplash)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Muskan Chandra, Counselling Psychologist at Lissun, shared, “Long working hours, understaffing, a lack of support and harassment in the workplace can ramp up stress levels and contribute to mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and substance abuse. Building mentally healthy workplaces is thus the pressing priority.” She suggested some actions that can be taken up in line with the same -

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  1. Training Need Analysis to understand needs and customise solutions based on challenges: Training Need Analysis is an essential process that helps businesses determine and analyse the divide between the employee's current skills and competencies and those needed to achieve company objectives. It is the first step in creating a training program that effectively meets organisational needs, is personnel-specific and has overarching corporate goals. Organisations can ensure that their staff has the necessary skills and knowledge to meet organisational objectives and remain competitive and successful in their industry.
  2. Improving employee experience: Develop, implement and monitor a mental health policy that includes zero tolerance for bullying and discrimination. Ensure that change is managed in an inclusive manner with open and realistic communication. Provide training programs for leaders and supervisors that include workplace mental health education. Ensure that senior staff is engaged in mental health promotion and ensuring a safe and positive climate.
  3. Empathy: In the workplace, there are several reasons why it's vital to be empathic. Improved communication, increased morale, better conflict resolution enhanced customer service. Strategies such as encouraging communication through regular team meet-ups, checking in one-on-one and constructive feedback help develop stronger communication and empathy amongst colleagues. When managers and leaders lead by example and model empathetic behaviour it encourages the employees to follow the same. Cultivating diversity and inclusivity and addressing conflicts constructively foster an empathetic environment.
  4. Normalising well-being dialogues at the workplace: Creating a culture where employees feel comfortable discussing mental health and general well-being with their colleagues and managers is also part of normalising healthy dialogue in the workplace. It means promoting and not stigmatizing the discussion of personal difficulties, seeking support and prioritising mental health. Normalising dialogues on good health can positively affect employees and organisations. This can lead to a higher level of satisfaction with the job, improving morale and increasing retention rates. It can also reduce absenteeism, adds to employee participation and job performance as well as enhances the quality of life.
  5. Intervention is prevention: Organisations should encourage and support their employees to seek assistance as soon as possible. Once the right resources and support are in place, well-being checks should be mandated. Workplaces should provide employee assistance programs with knowledgeable staff and evidence-based techniques. Educating the staff members about mental health helps in building peer support.

According to Sumit Bhasin, VP- Human Resources at EyeQ Hospital, building a mentally healthy workplace is essential for the success of a company and the well-being of the employees. He shared, “By fostering open communication, providing mental health resources, encouraging work-life balance, educating employees on mental health and leading by example, we create a culture of support and understanding. Prioritise employees' mental health and strive to create a workplace where everyone can thrive.” He elaborated -

  1. Foster Open Communication: It is crucial to create an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing any mental health concerns. This can be achieved by creating an open-door policy where employees can approach their managers or HR representatives without fear of judgment. Conduct regular surveys to gauge the mental health of employees and identify any potential issues.
  2. Provide Mental Health Resources: Understand the importance of access to mental health resources. Offer the employees access to an employee assistance program that provides confidential counselling services, mental health resources and support for personal and professional challenges.
  3. Encourage Work-Life Balance: It is essential to encourage work-life balance to reduce stress and burnout. Implement flexible work arrangements and offer employees the option to work remotely.
  4. Educate Employees on Mental Health: Many employees may not fully understand mental health and its impact on their lives. Offer regular training sessions to educate the employees on mental health, stress management and coping techniques. This not only benefits the employees but also creates a culture of understanding and support.
  5. Lead by Example: It is essential to prioritise your own mental health and set an example for your employees. Encourage managers to take mental health days and prioritise work-life balance. Provide leadership training to ensure the managers understand the importance of supporting their team's mental health.

Shashikanth Bondugula, Chief People Officer at InfoVision, highlighted, “Your employees will be more engaged and motivated at work, which will increase their level of job satisfaction and their likelihood of staying with your company. Your staff will be less stressed at work and more likely to contribute ideas for your business success, which will help it expand and flourish.” Adding to the list of steps, he advised -

1. Don't be scared to let unsuccessful team members go after hiring excellent ones: Employing people who fit your culture is the first step in creating a great work environment, as successful companies are aware of. Make sure your staff members are respectful and cooperative. Also true for those who are already a part of your team. Working with toxic people increases the likelihood that employees may develop toxic traits, which will make your workplace unhealthful.

2. Promote work-life balance: Employers should encourage a healthy balance between work and personal life by offering flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting or flexible schedules. This can reduce stress and burnout, which can negatively impact mental health.

3. Improve employee communication: Keep your interactions with staff in mind. Upper management and team members should concentrate on their communication strategies and how they affect the development of a positive work environment. Improve employee communication. Keep your interactions with staff in mind. Upper management and team members should concentrate on their communication strategies and how they affect the development of a positive work environment.

4. Plan workplace activities to encourage participation: Organisational events can increase employee engagement. Employees develop ties with each other and their bosses more as a result of their social interactions. Employees can experience a work culture that appreciates more than just completing projects on time by participating in business events. Along with giving kids chances to show their personality, it might help them feel like they belong.

5. Encourage open communication: Establish a secure environment where staff members can discuss their issues with mental health without fear of stigma or judgement. Managers should support open discussion about mental health and offer services to help their staff members who may need them. Having a mental health policy in place that describes how employees can receive support and assistance is one method to promote open communication.

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