It’s no surprise that in 2020, workers were more stressed-out than ever.
In the workforce, adapting to a “new normal” must include workplace health initiatives focused on improving workplace well-being. A special focus on mental health and stress management is an absolute must, according to the Mental Health America’s new Mind the Workplace 2021 Report.
The major takeaways of that report included:
- Employees don’t have stress management support
- Most employees are dealing with burnout symptoms
- Employees are worried about their current financial situations
- Workplace stress is severely impacting employees' mental health
The data compiled is from the Work Health Survey, which gathered insight from 5,030 U.S. employees across 17 industries. The survey ran from February to September 2020 and included details on burnout, supervisor support, workplace stress, financial insecurity, and mental illness.
Chances are good your employees are dealing with these very same issues with or without your knowledge. As lockdowns ease and workers return to the office, productivity will thrive in companies where employee well-being is a daily consideration.
If you’re seeing these same concerns in your own workplace, there is hope to fix it.
Below, you’ll find strategies to tackle issues like burnout, stress management, and other employee concerns with ease.
Burnout comes from chronic workplace stress that isn’t well managed. It’s important to note that burnout isn’t just hitting the healthcare professionals. In fact, employees don’t necessarily have to work in high-stress situations to have burnout symptoms. The Mental Health America report found the risk of burnout can happen to anyone. Factors include long working hours, too much work, ongoing staff shortages, and lack of management support.
Burnout Tackle Tips:
- Do a pulse survey - If staff feel emotionally and physically exhausted, that’s the first sign of burnout. Getting honest feedback is the first step to helping your team.
- Look at improving communication - How can your departments better communicate? Look at ways to streamline communication processes to avoid frustration from miscommunication. Working virtually? Asana and Trello are a great way to keep all the work projects straight.
- Connect - Social connection is key to a healthy, happy human existence. How can you better help your team connect daily for their social health? Coffee breaks, walking meetings, catered luncheons, hobby clubs, etc. can help your team feel connected about more than work.
- Start at orientation - When new hires come aboard, share stress management techniques to help them deal with the demands of the job. Educate them on company policies regarding mental health and vacation days.
Given that 90% of the survey’s respondents dealing with severe burnout had depression, musculoskeletal pain, and physical or mental conditions, it’s essential to get ahead of burnout as quickly as possible.
Want happy employees? Check out our post 17 Simple Ways to Create a Happy Workplace.
Focus on Real Health Needs
It’s no secret how workplaces have changed dramatically since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. As a result, many individuals have been dealing with more mental health issues along with increased stress. Additionally, many have opted to skip routine doctors’ visits, putting them at risk for issues like unchecked high blood pressure.
Ways to get in tune with employees’ needs:
- Look into valuable leadership training - Have leadership explore the Worksite Health 101 Training. Check out the CDC’s Worksite ScoreCard to promote employee well-being.
- Set up a biometric screening - Consider a biometric screening for real-time results of employees’ health issues
- Offer time for vaccination - Many employees are concerned about going back to the workplace. To keep your workplace safe, consider giving employees time off to go get the COVID-19 vaccine. Email a list of vaccination sites to make it easier for them to schedule an appointment.
The only way to help employees is to ask what they need. Send an anonymous survey with appropriate questions (What causes you the most stress at the moment? On a level of 1 to 5, how do your rate workplace stress impacting your health?, etc.) to see where employees are struggling.
Develop a More Relaxed Culture
Stress is an inevitable part of life. But for employers who let it run rampant in the workplace, it quickly can reduce a quality working environment into a toxic one. Workplace stress has a direct impact on conditions like anxiety and depression, which left unchecked can lead to serious physical conditions.
Healthy management practices to consider:
- Be flexible - In the pandemic era, learning to be flexible has helped many companies stay afloat with loyal workers. Negotiate with employees on collaboration efforts and focus on overall goals instead of 40 hours a week.
- Stay connected - Positive relationships can lead to a more inviting and enjoyable work environment. No one wants to feel like they’re working alone in a hostile environment day in and day out. Leadership focused on connecting team members — in-house and remotely — can help everyone enjoy working together.
- Show self-care in action - Leadership needs self-care just as much as any employee. Show your team how to tackle work with a clear mind by taking much-needed time off. Express gratitude, take regular breaks and stay organized professionally and personally.
Look at ways to provide a relaxed-yet-productive working environment. The employees who feel their working environment is healthy and supportive will always be more productive.
Create a Culture of Openness
Developing an open work culture can help employees feel more comfortable in their work environments. Frequent communication and transparency can lead to increased productivity and have a huge impact on employee happiness and engagement. That is especially true for discussions of personal concerns like mental health and even financial well-being.
To develop a more open culture:
- Keep mental health forefront - Participate in observances like Mental Illness Awareness Week and other mental health events. By participating in such events, your company provides awareness and opens up opportunities for discussion.
- Host experts - There are plenty of financial experts and psychologists who can speak on financial literacy and mental health topics. Consider hosting a lunch and learn with experts who can bring positive awareness to topics that may be sensitive to talk about.
- Use the verbiage - In your employee handbook, emails, HR discussions, etc., use the words “mental health day” and promote the use of them. Employees who get burned out may do so because they don’t want to admit they are having an emotional crisis. Use the language often to make it familiar and comfortable for employees to use, too.
Many employees right now are worried about their financial security which can have a major impact on mental health. Look at ways to create a culture of openness that makes the workplace feel like a safe place to discuss such issues and find solutions.
Revisit Employee Benefits To Boost Workplace Health
Employers have a responsibility to ensure a healthy workplace. Giving team members the tools needed to stay healthy can promote that.
While the basic safety measurements are important, too, it’s essential to provide settings and conditions focused on mental health, too.
Doing so can improve the quality of life and health of workers that may have positive impacts not even be seen in the workplace. But it’s important to know that they do matter and do help.
Sometimes employees need a reminder of what they have access to on a regular basis. Whether that’s healthcare benefits, wellness initiatives, wellness service discounts, etc., send a monthly reminder via email to revisit the perks they may have forgotten about since their hiring.
When they take advantage of it, you win as an employer, too. Those employees who stay mentally and physically fit will help reduce your healthcare costs, boost your productivity levels, and maintain company morale.
A comprehensive look at your well-being programs can not only improve your company’s bottom line, but also the health of your employees.
So, how can you improve your workplace health setting? Think about it. Then take action.
Ready to break the mental health stigma at work? Download The Employer’s Essential Mental Health Toolkit today!