"14.7% of all employed people, or 1 in every 6.8 people, experience mental health problems in the workplace"
Stats like that don't only harm the well-being of individuals who suffer from work-related anxiety or depression but also the company they work for.
Poor well-being in the workplace can decrease productivity, knackering sales and giving off generally bad vibe.
Today, we're looking at why managers should pay more attention to taking care of their employees' mental health and discussing all the key ways they can do it.
Why should managers take care of employees' mental health?
As a manager, it's your job to ensure your company maintains a positive workspace environment and keeps all the employees motivated and mentally sound.
There are several essential benefits of supporting and prioritising workplace mental health...
🧠 It helps maintain revenue
According to estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO), companies worldwide lose nearly $1 trillion in revenue because of depressed and anxious employees. They've also found almost a 4x return on investment on the money spent on mental health care.
🧠 It helps increases productivity in the workplace
According to a survey conducted by BetterUp, 25% of respondents claim that anxiety, stress, or other performance-related mental health issues negatively affect their performance at work. People work better under pressure is a myth — the most motivated, productive workers are those empowered, not pressured to perform well.
🧠 It helps to reduce employee turnover
Workers that are satisfied with their working conditions, feel like their managers are supportive enough, and care about their mental health are more likely to stay with the company for longer. BetterUp found that companies focusing on the workers' well-being impacts their intent to remain in their jobs. As a result, companies can save on onboarding costs.
🧠 It aids creativity and innovation
According to BetterUp, when people report that they’re struggling “not at all” with mental health, creative work takes 23% less effort.
Eight ways to promote workspace well-being
Workspace well-being has got a bit of a ring to it, don't ya' think?
There are courses you can take and books you can read, but ultimately it all comes down to knowing what a well workspace looks like and how to maintain a culture of workspace wellness.
Follow these tips...
Maintain a positive work-life balance
In 2020, the word changed in a way it had never changed before: almost everyone in the world became a WFH employee overnight for the first time.
"53% of employees prefer working from home"
... But there are some problems with it.
One of the main issues modern employees have to deal with when working from the comfort of their houses is the increasingly blurring lines between work and leisure time.
We no longer have to commute, which saves us on average an hour or two every day, depending on how far you live from the office.
But — somehow — our working days only become longer because of that. There's no such a thing as closing the laptop and going home, leaving whatever is left for tomorrow's version of yourself to deal with.
You're already home and can work just a little bit longer so that everything is finished on time.
"52% of people were suffering from the lack of boundaries between work and home life"
But even without the pandemic, there were blurred lines between home and work lives, which led to quick burnout.
If you want your employees to stay productive and motivated, you need to ensure that they have plenty of time to recharge, relax, and live their life outside of work.
There are lots of different ways you can promote a healthy work-life balance…
🧠 Shift the focus from hours to productivity
We’re past the need for a unified eight-hour-long working day. It’s counter-productive. Not only are employees incapable of concentrating for that long — there’s research that suggests people can only stay focused for up to 5 hours a day — but also, not every task requires that long to complete.
Instead of counting your employees' hours and keeping them hostage in the office (or in the Slack chatroom for all it matters), you should encourage your employees to focus on completing a specific task.
Some days employees may need to put in long hours to complete a task, but this is offset by the days when they don’t need to do a full eight-hour day.
🧠 Introduce a four-day working week
Trade unions across Europe are calling for governments to implement the four-day working week, hailing it as the future of healthy work-life balance and, therefore, work productivity.
From the perspective of a company that has already adopted this format, Perpetual Guardian, the benefits of a four-day working week are real and impeccable. Their employees maintained the same productivity level, improving job satisfaction, teamwork, work/ life balance, and company loyalty. Employees also experienced less stress, with a decrease of 45% to 38%.
If you can’t adopt the four-day working week just yet, take baby steps towards it and adopt shorter working hours on Fridays or Mondays or during the low seasons if your business experiences one.
🧠 Give your employees the right to disconnect
Since working from home, communication with colleagues has shifted into the digital realm. Phone calls, Slack messages, Zoom meetings, emails — we've found thousand new-age ways to stay connected and work collaboratively even when we're not together. Unfortunately, there are certain downsides to it, too.
Quality home time must be completely work-free. However, cheeky notifications from bosses on your smartphone screen make it challenging to forget about work. To avoid that, ban work communication outside of working hours and don't encourage overtime.
"To ensure neither you nor your team burns out at work, set clear boundaries. Don't send work emails/ texts on weekends or after business hours, keep work at work, and don't mix business with personal situations or issues."
🗣️ Kathy Bennett, Bennett Packaging
🧠 Encourage vacations
Your employees should never feel obliged to be at work every single day — they should know it’s okay to take breaks.
"Burnout is closely linked with job stress and overwork, so taking regular vacations is one of the best ways to prevent burnout from occurring within your organisation. It also helps improve employee morale and productivity when employees are well rested rather than exhausted from working long hours without days off from the office!"
🗣️ Zach Blenkinsopp, Digital Roofing Innovations
While successful business is all about discipline, you shouldn't be overly stiff. Restrain from being too controlling, and don't make your employees feel like big brother is always watching.
The last thing you want to do is introduce time trackers that bind your employees to their computers, not being able to zone out for a bit and take a break when needed.
Software that tracks mouse or keyboard activity or — even worse — takes regular screenshots of the employee's screen is rarely a good solution. It implies that you don't trust your employees and distracts team members from their job, and decreases productivity.
Another thing you can consider to promote employee satisfaction and reduce their stress levels is a flexible schedule. Instead of sticking to a strict 9-to-5 plan, let your employees choose when to start work and when to finish it.
Ideally, they should also be able to change their schedule if needed. Say, work from 11 to 7 on one day, and from 8 to 4 on another day.
Diversify employee workload
“A change of work is the best rest.”
🗣️ Arthur Conan Doyle
One of the most annoying things that leads to professional burnout is having to perform the same task repeatedly. Even if your employee's range of responsibilities isn't that large, make sure you alternate between different tasks so that there's some diversity in their daily routine.
For example, you can spice up your copywriter’s days by letting them switch from writing blog article writing tasks to emails and social media posts. You could get your reps involved in lead scoring, reporting, and demo calls if you're a sales manager.
And if you absolutely can't remove some of the tasks from your employee's workload, you should explore ways to streamline them. One such would be delegating a portion of your tasks to dedicated software.
Automate business processes
In the era of technology, software can complete many tedious, repetitive tasks, leaving people to focus on the processes that require creativity and human touch.
For instance, NetHunt CRM is capable of automating a range of different sales processes, including...
- Lead capturing
- Lead nurturing
- Data entry
- Moving a lead to the next stage
- Sales notifications and alerts
Train managers to spot signs of emotional distress
In the past, mental health wasn't widely discussed, even in private settings, let alone at the workplace.
So, the "old school" method of dealing with the deteriorating mental health of an employee would be to ignore the signs of depression and pretend like it didn't exist. This isn't a good approach.
Work burnout is real, and it's within a manager's jurisdiction to spot it from afar to prevent it before it gets too bad.
Turning a blind eye to a problem doesn't make it magically go away.
On the contrary, failure to notice emotional distress in an employee can discourage them from bringing their whole self to work, adversely affecting their mental state and productivity.
Managers must remain attentive to the mental state of the teams they lead and react even to the least conspicuous symptoms…
- Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood
- Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
- Restlessness, irritability
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Judgement is impaired
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Decreased productivity
- Morale problems
- Lack of cooperation
- Safety risks, accidents
- Frequent statements about being tired all the time
- Complaints of unexplained aches and pains
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Sleeping too little or sleeping too much
If you or your managers notice any of the signs mentioned above of depression, you need to act. Granted the nature of the problem, you need to be highly delicate about dealing with it.
Add mental health training to the onboarding agenda for all the managers you hire.
Teach managers how they can touch on the topic of mental health with an employee showing signs of mental distress.
If your manager spots an employee struggling mentally, they should approach the situation carefully, try to cheer them up, find out if they need help, and encourage them to discuss their problems.
Point out the importance of protecting their confidentiality.
Even though mental health is no longer a taboo topic, it's still susceptible. Make sure your managers are discreet about their assumptions and discuss the problem privately, face to face with the employee.
Unless the employee gives explicit permission to share the information they provide to the manager when they open up, make sure the manager respects their privacy and keeps it to themself.
Explain how they can show respect and loyalty.
Outline possible scenarios of how a manager could ameliorate the severity of the employee’s distress, including all the possible arrangements your company can make.
"The first thing to do when you or your staff experience burnout is to ask questions. Understanding the root cause can help know while it's happening and develop solutions. If my staff is burning the midnight oil to complete a project with a tight deadline, I try to encourage some needed time off afterwards.
People don't have to move from one task to another immediately. They might need to recharge, so they start being creative again. When someone is too tired or overworked, it's easy to lose the joy of doing anything and the motivation to collaborate. However, it's important to point out that days off should not be the only measure. Prevention works best, so scheduling breakout sessions where we talk about things that are not work-related have also helped."
🗣️ Andrei Vasilescu, DontPayFull
Include mental health coverage as a part of your health care plan
Your managers aren't omnipotent and can't treat an employee's depression even if they spot it early. They're not qualified for this.
So, you need to ensure that all your employees have access to the services of someone who is. The best way to take care of your team members' well-being is to include mental health coverage as a part of your benefits plan. This could consist of traditional mental health-related care like therapy and alternative care, such as massage therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractors.
Encourage communication at the workplace
You know what they say, don't bottle up your feelings, or they might explode in the most unexpected moment, making the situation tenfold worse. So, you shouldn't ban your colleagues from expressing their thoughts and feelings and discussing those with their fellow team members.
"When sales reps chat to one another about how bad situations are, it helps them bond and cope with the situation, in my opinion. This is especially true if they know that the organisation has been placed in a difficult situation and has done all possible to prevent it. Rather than prohibiting or discouraging negative comments, realise that some types of complaining can help solve problems.
Reps do what they do all day, every day, and they should be the ones to offer suggestions on how to improve a situation. Complaints can lead to constructive criticism and suggestions for improvements, which you should be ready to implement. Of course, when complaining involves simply rehashing the same old gripes repeatedly, the result can be quite different."
🗣️ Adam Wood, RevenueGeeks
Set clear expectations and effectively communicate your requirements
When everyone is on the same page, there’s less room for freaking out about not delivering the results you’re expected to deliver.
"Employees who feel their managers are not good at communicating are 23% more likely than others to experience mental health declines"
Therefore, managers must ensure that all the tasks they assign to their team members are crystal clear, detailed, understandable, and unambiguous. Outline the targets you expect your reps to meet, and ensure that your employees know exactly what to do to achieve their goals.
Moreover, you should also ensure you keep your team informed about any organisational changes or updates, clarify any modified work hours and norms, and explain the priorities of different tasks.
At the same time, however, don't be too pushy when setting targets. If you want to avoid mass burnout of your team members, you need to be flexible with your tasks, KPIs, and deadlines; give in where necessary and acknowledge what can slide if necessary.
"When it comes to a target-driven environment, you have to ensure that employees still have downtime to prevent burnout. It is only natural for employees to want to push harder and further if this in some way affects their wages or they are worried about not meeting that target. Instead of letting them burn themselves out, have designated morning and afternoon breaks, where the team switches off for 15 minutes.
I understand managers may panic that this could cost them business, but in the long run, it keeps a healthy and happy team working well, and imagine the company you will lose if your team members are dropping like flies because they've pushed themselves too hard.
🗣️ Ashley Chubin, Flyhi
Moreover, you should be your team member’s advocate. This entails ensuring the well-being and assistance of your immediate reports. Conserve their time: if your team is overworked, one of the most important things you can do is safeguard their time.
Push back or say no if someone approaches you to check if your team can take on a project. Also, let your staff know that it's okay to decline work if they're feeling overloaded; this will empower them to manage their workloads.
And once your employees complete the tasks you assign to them, it's essential that you return to them with feedback. Otherwise, there's a high chance of them feeling like they're being unappreciated and doing Sisyphean work.
Employee burnout poses a very real danger to your business.
Understand what it is, be empathetic towards it, and do everything in your power to run your business progressively, with your employees' health taking precendent over the money you make.
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