When you see an employee or co-worker crying in the break room, your instinct isn’t to offer a consoling hug. No, you back out of the room cautiously. You try to avoid them for the rest of the day and hide behind your coffee when you see them in the hallway. You’re not alone in this.
People aren’t comfortable talking about “personal stuff” at work. Although this is a great practice to stay professional, it becomes a different story when the issue stems from mental health concerns. When one person is affected, the whole team, and even the whole company, could suffer. To avoid this, take note of the tips below to help you build a mentally healthy workplace.
It makes sense to leave personal problems at home. After all, that’s how you’re able to focus at work. But mental health troubles aren’t like pesky children you can drop off at daycare. They’re more like gum you step on in the morning; it sticks around until dinner and makes you feel uneasy every time you take a step. Employees can’t always control their moods, thoughts, and behaviors when they’re struggling with something of this nature. This could lead to more frequent leaves and sub-par outputs, which could affect your whole company’s performance.
To look out for your company is a more practical reason for making your workplace more mental health-friendly. There is, of course, a more compassionate one. In the U.S. alone, one out of five people reportedly struggles with a mental illness. This trend is only predicted to rise in the upcoming years. As human beings, everyone has a responsibility to do what they can about this serious state of affairs, even when they don’t face these issues themselves. The workplace is an excellent venue to practice this responsibility.
Set the tone
You can’t change people’s mindsets about mental health overnight. You could, however, start moving things toward a more accepting direction by simply making it known to everyone that you, your department, and the company itself do not discriminate against people who have mental health concerns. From that tolerant stand, you could transition to being more supportive by promoting a healthy work-life balance. For example, you could discourage people from working on weekends unless completely necessary.
Optimize the physical work area
The actual environment that you’re in could also influence your mood, focus, and motivation. To ensure that none of these are compromised in the office, make an effort to maintain a conducive working environment. For one, you could let in more natural light to reduce eye strain from gadget lights and generally help lift everyone’s mood. Additionally, you could also see to it that there is proper air ventilation. These little conditions will not only make you more physically comfortable but will also contribute to your overall well-being.
Overworking is a leading cause of many mental health concerns. See to it that your workplace has the necessary tools and technology that would help employees be more efficient. For example, if you sell customized merchandise, consider buying instant heat press machines from a reputable supplier such as Insta Graphic Systems. On the other hand, if you’re a smaller business that offers more specialized, custom-designed stationery, a cutting machine might be the way to go. The point is to help unload some burden from employees to avoid overworking them as well as to increase productivity.
Offer tangible support
You can’t just put up a slogan that says “mental health is important” and call it a day. With things like this, you have to walk the talk to have a real impact. You could do this in different ways. For one, you could provide screening tools for mental health issues that would nip the problem in the bud before it does any real harm. You could also provide actual support, such as an on-call company therapist, that can be available to employees whenever they need it.
Encourage organizational skills
Finally, do what you can to keep the workplace organized and tidy. This isn’t just for the sake of incredibly nitpicky bosses. An organized space helps keep an organized mind, which improves focus and increases productivity. Raise the standard of tidiness in your office by encouraging everyone to clean their own little spaces.
If there was an employee in your company who broke a leg, you would be helpful and considerate. This should be the same approach for someone who has mental health concerns. Indeed, this is easier said than done, so just do what you can to offer genuine support.