Mental health in the workplace

Work is where most of us spend the majority of our time and it is a major part of our lives and thus it can play a big part in the state of our mental health. It is vital to practice and ensure that your staff work in a positive environment, not just for the individual, but for the workplace and for the productivity of the company. The Covid-19 pandemic has also had a big impact on employee mental health due to many losing all or parts of their income and for some, they may have had to put in long hours to keep the company running. Overall, it has just been a stressful time all around.

Cause and effects of mental health in the workplace

Most work-related risk factors are caused by:

  • the type of work or industry
  • poor managerial environment and how they command their team
  • interaction or conflict between colleagues
  • availability of support to employees
  • unsuitable tasks for people who have the wrong skill sets to perform their jobs
  • availability of resources to complete the job
  • inadequate health and safety
  • unclear job descriptions or instructions or expectations
  • high and unrelenting workloads

These factors can contribute to:

  • both psychological and physical problems
  • health consequences
  • reduced productivity
  • increased staff turnover
  • negative impact on family and social interactions

Having a fulfilling job can be good for your wellbeing and mental health and it gives us a sense of purpose and direction. Good mental health leads to:

  • increase in productivity
  • positivity in the workplace
  • better social interactions & relationships
  • better customer service
  • enthusiasm for the daily tasks
  • willingness to learn

How to create a healthy workplace

1. Be a good listener and communicator

Practicing good mental health starts from the top. From directors or owners to the managers or team leaders. Managing a team is not just about delegating tasks, it is about communication and being able to handle feedback no matter if it is positive or negative. You need to be able to adapt your managing methods and listen to what your employees are struggling with.

2. Do anonymous surveys to establish how employees rate your business

Find out what your staff needs are in terms of changes in the workplace or environment, what are they struggling with such as the difficulty of their tasks or the system they are working with, do they have friends in the workplace, do they feel appreciated, are their skills utilised and are they working in their strengths each day. Find out what they like about the company or working there and how things can change to make it better.

These types of questions are done best with anonymous surveys every few months where people feel like they can be open and honest and not be judged by their answers or if it comes from someone, they feel they can trust like the HR department, and it gives people the sense of being heard.

Once you get the results, read through them, see what is the most requested or talked about issues and see where you can improve or what you can put in place to improve the working conditions. Should you feel an individual is not happy, make time to have a meeting with them to discuss what the problem is and how you can accommodate them.

3. Organise and make time for fun between employees

If you’re able to, try to organise fun team-building occasions every few months. It can even be something as simple as attending the local pub quiz night or hosting a bring and braai or even doing a yoga class together. With life being as rushed as it is, you have to make time for employees to have fun together.

4. Show that you care about the individual

Small things can go a long way. Remembering an employee’s work anniversary or birthday or showing your appreciation and giving praise where it’s due can do a lot to boost company morale and motivation. If you’re too busy being the boss, why not appoint a fun committee to take it off your hands. These things create long-term loyalty and make employees feel cared about.

5. Be compassionate

If you see someone struggling with mental health, give them a break, encourage them to take a day’s leave, or ease up on the pressure a little.

South African Depression & Anxiety Group:

Click here to visit their website
SADAG Call their hotline: 0800 567 567
SMS them and they will call you back: 31393

To Contact A Counsellor Between 8am-8pm Monday To Sunday,
Call: 011 234 4837 / Fax Number: 011 234 8182 / 24hr Helpline 0800 456 789

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