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How to improve mental health in the workplace

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay | 17 August 2021


When it comes to workplace health, we often focus on the physical: promoting sick leaves, investment in safety gear, and OHS (occupational health and safety) rules and practices. The more mental, psychological side of things, however, still leaves much room for improvement. 

While growing less stigmatised with time, mental health in the workplace remains a relatively undervalued and under-discussed area of concern. Impacting everyone in an organisation, the benefits of a mentally healthy workplace are boundless – leading to more engaged, innovative, and productive employees.

Below, we explore five major strategies one can implement to promote better mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, and how course training with Upskilled can help.  

5 strategies to improve employees’ mental health and wellbeing

1. Foster an openly communicative workplace culture. 

Your first step to cultivating a mentally healthier workplace is to foster one of support, respect, and open communication. Encourage collaboration between employees and the importance of diverse ideas, ensuring all members of a team feel valued and confident in their roles. Hosting occasional team-building activities can help with this, allowing workers to strengthen their group dynamics and productivity. 

Consulting employees on key business decisions can also do wonders to improve workplace communication. This allows workers to truly feel appreciated and a part of the business’ long-term goals and vision, inspiring them to do their best work. Additionally, encouraging regular employee feedback not only places value on their opinions and concerns, but allows you to get to know them better (both personally and professionally); building a trusting, comfortable, and open dynamic between you and your workers.

2. Be sure to balance workplace demands.

An effective manager must also take care in making reasonable demands towards workers. Realistic expectations are critical – with “burnout” now a major cause of workplace stress and dissatisfaction, it’s incredibly important to consider the personal needs and capabilities of your employees. 

Ensure your workers are granted substantial, appropriately-timed breaks, and when necessary, be sure to encourage open discussion of workload-related concerns. Should employees feel overwhelmed by their current tasks, offer additional assistance in how they can organise or tackle their current projects. In some cases, it may even be worth promoting additional, role-specific (or broader workplace) training. 

Additionally, ensure proper redistribution of work tasks when certain employees are on leave or out of the office. This can help alleviate potentially excessive workloads left on their colleagues, which may cause unnecessary stress and exhaustion if poorly managed. 

3. Set clear, defined expectations per role.

manager listening to employee

Clarity in one’s role and work objectives allows them to strive for their best performance. The opposite, however, not only leads to unnecessary confusion – but also the added stress of attempting to define one’s workplace purpose and responsibilities. 

Avoiding this simply requires establishing clear workplace expectations. When assigning new employees to a role, be sure they’re well-briefed on their main goals and objectives, their reporting relationships, and their key daily duties. The demands placed on them must also consistently align with their role and position. 

Personal needs and values must also be considered when making future changes to employee roles. Be sure to avoid assigning roles to workers that may conflict with their current obligations and interests. You’ll also want to avoid micromanagement; and provide teams with the right amount of autonomy and flexibility to carry out their tasks in ways they feel most productive. 

4. Ensure effective management of change.

Though change is inevitable in any business, poor management of it can often lead to unnecessary stress across an entire organisation. Employees who experience a sudden overhaul in the practices, processes, and routines they’ve established can easily feel disoriented without the proper communication required to effectively navigate these changes. 

It’s thus important to keep your workers updated on any incoming changes to the business, their role, and/or their current projects, allowing them to plan and pivot accordingly. It may also be best to involve them in the change process, as this lets them build a better understanding of the situation and can motivate them to help make the process smoother and more efficient. As the changes roll out, be sure to keep all parties informed of the progress and any milestones achieved. 

Effective change management avoids leaving workers in the dark with where the company and their roles are headed. This clarity can help them stay focused on both their goals and that of the business, while embracing change and unexpected outcomes as they occur.

5. Encourage open conversation about mental health. 

employees in deep discussion

Finally, creating a mentally healthier workplace starts with de-stigmatising the topic in your regular conversations. 

Have open discussions and chats about mental health with your employees – providing them with a safe, respectful space to voice their personal concerns and support for one another. If you suspect an employee is struggling with mental health-related problems, take the time to approach them privately to offer the emotional support they need. 

In some cases, providing access to relevant support services (i.e. helplines, employee assistance programs, referral services) can also help. Additional mental health training can also be a valuable step towards greater awareness of psychological needs and wellbeing in the workplace. 

Should I consider mental health training?

According to the Black Dog Institute, one in six working age people are bound to suffer from mental illness, at any point in time. Addressing mental health should no longer be an option, but rather a priority, among employers. 

Mental health training can offer both you and your workers a comprehensive exploration of common mental health conditions, how to spot the “warning signs” among colleagues, and the services one can access for support. Plenty of training options are now also available online, such as those offered by Upskilled.

Those interested in building their knowledge of mental health care may find value in our CHC43315 – Certificate IV in Mental Health, a program that equips its students with the communication skills, relationship-building tools, and ethical knowledge to ensure the healthier mental well-being of others. Best of all, as an online course, individuals are free to study at a pace, place, and schedule that suits them best. 

Promote a mentally healthier workplace today!

Whether you’re an employer (or employee) seeking a healthier workplace culture, or an aspiring professional in the mental health field, Upskilled’s mental health qualification can offer the fundamental skills and knowledge you need to get started.

Help strive for better mental health (in the workplace or otherwise), and enquire with us on a course today. 
 
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