Mental Health and Wellbeing: A Priority for Leaders

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Mental health impacts all areas of our lives, including work, either negatively or positively. When employees experience positive mental health, the result is increased productivity, decreased absenteeism, and a happier, healthier work environment. Yet, across all industries, people are struggling with wellness, mental health, and loneliness.

82% of employees globally report having felt or feeling lonely at work.

EY Belonging Barometer 2.0

Supporting mental health and wellbeing is crucial for leaders to be thinking about not only because it effects individual team members but also the bottom-line impact it can have for entire organizations.

It’s important to note mental health exists on a continuum, ranging from languishing to flourishing or negative to positive. Fortunately, there are a variety of skills, behaviors, and organizational conditions that leaders and workplaces can put into practice to support positive employee wellbeing, which in turn encourages positive mental health. Here are four ideas you can begin considering and potentially implementing today.

Educate leaders on signs of burnout

With stress levels and demands constantly increasing across workplaces, burnout is a major issue. And burnout can lead to deeper mental health concerns if not proactively addressed. Signs of burnout include prolonged stress, loss of motivation, withdrawal from the team and other support systems, emotional exhaustion, physical fatigue, and a general feeling of being overwhelmed. Being able to recognize early signs of burnout and remediate the core causes is an important skill for all leaders to protect employee mental health and wellbeing.

This is doubly difficult for managers of remote teams, which is why connecting with your people on a regular basis is so important. Outside of regular check-ins, make a point to reach out with a phone call or a chat message during the work day. And instead of asking about work to-do’s, try finding out their plans for the weekend, exciting summer trips they may be planning, and other aspects of their life.

Practice and model healthy work/life balance

Leaders are the window through which your employees see the organization. Modeling healthy behaviors is one of any leader’s first steps to supporting their team’s wellbeing. By practicing behaviors like setting boundaries, taking adequate time off, and creating breaks within the day, you encourage your team members to do the same.

Consider your organization’s core values: Do you encourage connection and rest outside of work? If employees don’t feel like taking time away from their work to be with loved ones is supported by the organizational culture, they will be less likely to find work/life balance that keeps them happy and satisfied.

Create organizational conditions and policies that encourage physical, emotional, and mental wellness

Many people still fear speaking out about their mental health at work. To foster and promote the wellbeing of your employees, offer support structures such as employee assistance programs, wellness initiatives, and mental health benefits and resources. Additionally, consider providing support to employees by offering flexible work arrangements or opportunities to reassess workloads. Removing these barriers for employees to receive support helps to create an inclusive work culture. This is an important step in ensuring all employees feel cared for and valued.

At ADVISA, we’ve set aside office space to be used as a Wellness Room. Team members get to decide how and when they will use it throughout their work day to take a break from their desk. Additionally, every A-Team meeting this year has incorporated discussions on wellness and team members are regularly invited to participate in group activities such as yoga. Separate from each other, these are small initiatives that may not make much of an impact on the organization. However, together they are advancing a culture that supports mental health, wellness and self-care.

It’s important to keep in mind that wellness and balance will look different to everyone. Take the time to get to know your team members and coach them to find what works best for them as an individual.

Prioritize mental health

As a leader, you need to choose to prioritize mental health, both for yourself and for your workforce. Helping and supporting employees in coping with their mental health challenges not only preserves the workforce’s wellbeing but also contributes to a more productive and successful organization. By prioritizing mental health, leaders can create a fulfilling work environment that fosters creativity and innovation.

Ultimately, prioritizing employee mental health is no longer an “if” but a “must-do” expectation. Younger generations of workers, like Millennials and Gen Z, are not only more willing to talk about mental health in the workplace—they expect it to be a part of the conversation. Leaders should take the initiative to create a culture that promotes mental health awareness, train employees on how to identify mental health concerns, provide resources and access to professionals, and encourage self-care. By taking these steps over time, you can create a well-balanced work environment that results in enhanced productivity, engagement, and loyalty.

Looking to create a culture of connection?

At ADVISA, we have 37 years of helping leaders create four levels of connection for their employees: Job, Manager, Team, and Culture. To learn how, reach out to speak with one of our consultants.

And don’t miss this article by ADVISA’s President Heather Haas: “Be the Organization People Love not the Organization One Leave.”