Over the last few years, mental health has become a major topic of discussion. Many employees have expressed their want and need for managers to better support their mental and emotional health needs. A study conducted by Harvard Business Review found that nearly 42% of employees reported a decline in their mental health over the last couple of years since the start of the pandemic. The immediate effects are obviously being felt by many of those who have been affected, and the long-term effects will have an even bigger reach. Managers are in a unique position to address this for the betterment of their employees and the longevity of their successful business. Here are a few ways you can better support employee mental and emotional needs.
One of the greatest ways to support employee mental health needs is to be flexible. Your team’s needs will change as the world around them changes, and you’ll need to be open to that to best support them. That might mean flexible work hours or the option to work from my home on certain days. Some employees might want the ability to hit the gym or make a therapy appointment in the middle of the day, or even run an errand to lighten the after-work load. It might mean changing your policies to reflect a better mental health day policy. Each employee’s needs are different, but you should trust them and expect they know their needs best. In order to figure out what kinds of flexibility your team needs you’ll need to ask and really listen to them. Then be open to embracing change as it comes. Odds are they will be even better at their job if they can properly attend to their mental health needs throughout the day and week.
Create a better workplace culture
For most of us, work takes up the majority of our week. No one wants to go into a workplace that is toxic or cold, so creating a supportive and open culture is imperative to your team wanting to show up every day. The majority of burnout begins at the workplace, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be addressed there.
Offer inclusive options
Along with being flexible, you should consider whether your options are inclusive and accessible for all of your employees. As more people are diagnosed with long COVID, the American workforce is going to see a lot more employees with unique disability needs. You may want to consider how your workplace is equipped to best support those employees’ mental, emotional, and physical needs.
Address diversity needs
Mental health crises can happen to us all, but employees from diverse backgrounds are even more likely to experience mental and emotional health challenges. You’ll need to address the unique needs of your team, which may mean investing in diversity training or addressing diversity in your workplace head on.
Model healthy behaviors
That means taking your own mental health days, honoring your lunch break, and not sending out emails to your team at all hours of the night. This is one of the most effective ways to ensure your employees will take their own needs seriously and feel like they can communicate those needs with you. Show your employees how you practice self-care, and set clear boundaries that you stick to. By modeling this behavior you set an example that not only is it okay in the workplace, it’s encouraged. Offering a comfortable and accepting work environment is a great way to keep your employees from burning out or breaking down.
Burnout, depression, and anxiety have dominated the conversations around mental health and the workplace over the last few years. If you manage a team, you have the ability to change the narrative.