The Covid-19-related lockdowns and social distancing norms have resulted in employees feeling on edge as they have no idea about what the coronavirus pandemic will bring next. This has led to severe mental stress and mental health issues. Here’s a look at some strategies that can help promote positivity and mental health in the workplace.
Did you know that one in seven Indians are affected by issues related to mental health? These could be disorders of varying severity with anxiety and depression being the most common. To put that into perspective, it means that more than 19 crore people are impacted by mental health-related issues in India alone. The Indian government has acknowledged this as a serious concern and addressed the same by launching 23 tele-mental health centres as part of the National Tele Mental Health Programme in the recent budget announcement. This is the right way forward for the nation as it will build conversations on a larger scale around addressing the problem and help reduce the stigma currently attached to mental health issues.
Pairing the growing mental disorder scenario with the Covid-19-related lockdowns and social distancing norms have resulted in people feeling on edge because of the many uncertainties. Fear, stress, and worry are commonly felt by most as everyone strives to deal with the uncontrolled spread of sickness, increasing rate of fatalities, and post-Covid complications on the one hand and professional, financial, familial, and other personal uncertainties, on the other. The fact that new variants are emerging and there doesn’t seem to be an end to the crisis in sight is only adding to the woes of the people.
Amidst the large-scale cases of anxiety and depression due to the pandemic, many organisations have realised that their workforce needs mental health support. It is, therefore, vital for them to understand how mental health impacts employees and what companies can do to take care of their team.
An employee’s well-being doesn’t focus only on physical wellness – exercise, nutrition, quality sleep, healthy biometrics. It is much more holistic, and organisations need to shift focus to mental health by creating a healthy working environment at the workplace. Senior management teams must know how to care for their employees by providing them with the support they require, through both the good and stressful times.
Based on my observations made in the last few years, the six strategies that can help promote positivity and mental health in the workplace include:
Talking to employees
Many organisations introduce stress management programs. While that is a good way to address this concern, it is also vital to know what is causing the stress. The top three complaints are relationship/marital issues, failure to create a work-life balance, and low confidence/self-esteem. If you don’t know what’s leading to increased anxiety, your efforts to manage the same can fail.
Helping employees reduce stress
After you understand the main triggers of employee stress, prioritise mental health at work. If the cause is work-life balance, try to introduce a schedule of flexible hours or telecommuting to make it easier for the team to juggle between work and life. If resources are a concern, add a budget, outsource, hire, reprioritise or put some projects on hold. In most scenarios, a happier work environment for employees will improve the overall output of the team.
Caring for employees by watching their hours
Working excessively till late hours can help you achieve results in the short term. However, it will lead to burnout in the long term. Employees need time to recharge, unwind, and connect with loved ones to remain mentally sound. Thus, do not have long hours as a regular occurrence. Fix your work hours and stick to the time slots allotted.
Setting time for humour and fun
Simple activities like connecting over chat, playing a game, or sharing experiences with coworkers improve performance and build trust. Moreover, it helps to relieve stress and create a positive emotional response. Laughter leads to relaxation and thereby reduces overall stress.
Noticing any signs of mental health concerns or depression
A majority of people with depression aren’t aware of their condition. Consequently, you must invest in training managers to observe and recognise the early signs of depression. That way, you can intervene and take action at the right time. Caring for employees helps to keep them healthy and happy, and at the same time, saves costs.
Providing support and employee care
There are many ways in which you can offer assistance to your employees, from individual and couples counselling to group therapy. Introduce programs that allow employees to interact with qualified mental health therapists. If there are any other services that they require like childcare, investment advice, etc., make arrangements for the same.
“An employee’s well-being doesn’t focus only on physical wellness – exercise, nutrition, quality sleep, healthy biometrics. It is much more holistic, and organisations need to shift focus on mental health by creating a healthy working environment at the workplace.”
It is crucial to pay attention to mental health in the workplace. Stress and poor mental health can affect employee productivity and performance negatively.