Most full-time employees spend 8+ hours a day at their place of work, which can be half or even the majority of their waking hours. Good mental health and well-being are essential to their productivity and overall satisfaction in the workplace. Therefore, it’s mutually beneficial for employers to promote mental health and well-being in the workplace.
However, despite its importance, mental health is often overlooked in the workplace. In this post, we’ll discuss some ways to encourage good mental health and well-being in your workplace. By doing so, you’ll not only create a happier and healthier workforce, but you’ll also see a positive impact on your business’s bottom line.
1) Offer comprehensive mental healthcare coverage as part of your employee benefits
Learn about the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which requires health insurers to provide mental health coverage that is comparable to their physical health coverage. Confirm your employee benefits meet federal standards. In addition, review the list of in-network mental health providers to confirm that employees have multiple options. Be aware of so-called “phantom providers,” those who are listed as in-network, but who are unable to take on patients.
Include a clear explanation of benefits, including mental healthcare coverage, during your new employee onboarding process. Let employees know who to contact in Human Resources if they have any questions.
Remind employees that they can use paid time off (PTO), sick days, or medical leave for mental health services. If it’s okay to leave the office early for a dentist appointment, then it’s okay to leave early for therapy.
2) Create an EAP and talk about it
Establish an employee assistance program (EAP), and routinely remind employees about it. An EAP is a workplace benefit that helps employees with personal problems. This is unrelated to medical benefits. Employees can use EAP services without enrolling in healthcare coverage. EAP services can include:
- Financial and legal services
- Crisis response
- Conflict resolution
- Leadership development
For example, Insight Global offers employees no-cost services through Grow Counseling.
3) Discuss mental health in the workplace
Reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness by speaking openly about mental health. Negativity can easily spread in the workplace, especially regarding sensitive issues like mental health. Be proactive in preventing this problem by addressing mental health openly and honestly. Promote all employee mental health benefits on an ongoing basis. Here are some ways to discuss mental health in the workplace:
- Lead by example. Talk about your own experiences with stress. Share what strategies you used to improve your mental health. If you’ve ever been diagnosed with a mental illness yourself, you can also mention that, but don’t feel like you need to share your private medical information.
- Talk openly about stress, self-care, and mental health. This can be through meetings, newsletters, flyers in the breakroom, or other forms of communication.
- Encourage employees to utilize any available benefits related to mental health and well-being.
- Let employees know that they can come to you with any problems. In case they aren’t comfortable coming to you, designate someone in Human Resources to be available for confidential employee concerns.
- Remind employees to take breaks throughout the workday as a way to decompress.
4) Train your managers to promote mental health and well-being
In a small company, you might be the only one available to promote mental health and well-being in the workplace. However, in a larger company, you can train all of leadership on mental health issues.
Frontline managers often have the greatest impact on whether or not employees can utilize their mental health benefits. After all, what’s the point of offering vacation days if managers don’t approve requests for time off? By training management on the importance of mental health and well-being, you improve outcomes for your employees and for your business. Ideally, your managers will learn how to:
- Recognize and respond to mental health issues.
- Create an open, positive work environment.
- Communicate with employees about mental health.
- Offer flexibility to employees while still meeting goals.
5) Ask for employee feedback and implement their ideas
Even if you offer great mental health resources, it’s hard to know what’s working if you don’t ask. Give your employees the opportunity to provide honest feedback about their workplace, using methods like anonymous surveys, one-on-one conversations, and focus groups.
Once you’ve collected employee feedback, be transparent about the results. Even if you haven’t figured out a solution, communicate your willingness to implement change. You can also ask employees to suggest ideas to combat issues in the workplace.
One important area for employee feedback is work-life balance. Find out what that means to them.
6) Promote work-life balance
Work-life balance is not just a catchphrase. Employees who effectively balance their work lives with their personal lives will be more productive at work, as well as happier and healthier overall. Here are a few ways to encourage employees to have work-life balance:
- Lead by example. Use your own PTO. Enjoy real lunch breaks. Don’t contact your employees outside of work hours.
- Train managers to focus on outcomes, not hours. If employees are getting their work done and meeting their deadlines, that’s more important than how many hours they sit in front of a desk.
- Encourage breaks at work. Don’t expect employees to work through lunch.
- Give employees time off to volunteer. (Insight Global employees get 5 days annual PTO to volunteer!)
Another big way to promote work-life balance is to offer flexibility.
7) Offer flexible options for employees
A 2021 study found that 34% of workers say that flexible hours would improve their mental health. A recent 2022 study found that 60% of “remote capable workers” (employees who can do their jobs remotely) want a long-term hybrid work arrangement, while 34% want to work remotely full-time. Effective work redesign can improve both employee well-being and company outcomes.
Flexibility means different things to different people, so keep an open mind when considering your options, and talk to your employees to see what they prefer. Here are just a few ways to offer a flexible work schedule:
- Remote work. Employees working from home has become normalized during the pandemic. While many workplaces are transitioning to a hybrid schedule, it’s still helpful to offer remote options to accommodate caregiving or travel.
- Hybrid schedule. This means employees come into the office 2-3 days per week while working remotely the other days. For maximum flexibility, allow employees to choose when they come into the office, at least part of the time.
- Flex time. Even if you need your employees to work 8 hours a day, you can give them some flexibility over which 8 hours they work.
- 9/80 schedule. With this schedule, employees split 80 hours of work over 9 days. Usually this looks like working eight 9-hour days and one 8-hour day in order to earn one extra day off.
- Compressed work week. With this schedule, employees typically work 40 hours over 4 days.
- Leaves and sabbaticals. This is when an employee takes extended time off, paid or unpaid, without fear of losing their job. Many Americans are familiar with the Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows employees to take up to 12 weeks unpaid leave if they meet certain conditions. However, you can offer your employees other forms of leave or sabbatical.
- Unlimited vacation. With unlimited vacation, employees can take PTO as long as they meet their deliverables and deadlines.
8) Foster a positive company culture
A positive company culture is essential to the success of any business. Not only does it provide a more enjoyable working environment, but it can also lead to better mental health for employees. Your business can offer every possible mental health resource, but it won’t matter if your company culture is toxic. Employees won’t utilize opportunities to improve mental health and well-being if they’re afraid of repercussions.
Insight Global once had a broken culture, with a high attrition rate, declining revenue, and stressed-out employees. Under the leadership of newly-appointed CEO Bert Bean, we turned things around. You can too. Here are a few ways to foster a positive company culture:
- Empower your employees. Research shows that when employees feel supported and respected, they are happier, more productive, and less likely to quit.
- Lead with authenticity. When you’re open and honest with your team, you build trust and respect.
- Offer opportunities for employees to learn and grow. This will increase employee engagement and loyalty.
Creating a positive company culture should be a priority for any business owner or manager. Not only does it improve employee mental health and well-being, a positive culture also improves business outcomes.
9) Promote overall well-being
At Insight Global, our purpose is to develop our people personally, professionally, and financially; so they can be the light to the world around them. This means our leadership promotes overall well-being in the workplace. Our corporate office offers:
- An on-site gym with group fitness classes, free to all employees.
- Healthy snacks and seltzer water on all floors.
- Webinars and interactive trainings on topics like personal finance, leadership development, DE&I issues, mental health, philanthropic partners, and so much more.
- Wellness rooms for employees to take quiet breaks.
When you help your employees be their best selves, they can do their best work. And you don’t need a big budget to boost employee well-being. Small actions make a difference. Consider the following ideas:
- Recognize employees for their hard work. Even a simple “thank you” makes a difference.
- Create team wellness breaks.
- Halfway through a meeting, have all employees stand and stretch.
- During the afternoon slump, blast a fun song for a dance break.
- With remote employees, hire a yoga instructor to teach easy moves that can be done at home.
- Organize a friendly fitness competition. Challenge employees to take the stairs or reach a daily number of steps.
- Set up ergonomic workstations for employees.
- Encourage connection between employees. You can do this with:
- Team dinners or happy hours.
- Social groups like kickball teams, book clubs, etc.
- Mentorship programs.
- Employee Resource Groups.
- Volunteer work.
Don’t forget to ask your employees for input! What do they think would make the most difference in their well-being at the office?
Everyone has experienced a rough few years due to COVID-19. However, these challenges have also led to a positive shift in awareness of promoting mental health and well-being in the workplace and in all areas of life.
Encouraging good mental health can have a big impact productivity, as well as lead to less conflict amongst employees. Employers can take a range of positive steps towards creating a mentally healthy workplace. Following the tips from this blog post is a great way to start!
Interested in finding a company that supports mental health in the workplace? Start your job search with Insight Global!