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No business can thrive for long without the participation of a healthy and focused workforce. Although physical well-being plays a major role in employee morale and performance, the mental health of workers is equally important to maintain. Unfortunately, many organizations today fall short when it comes to providing employees with the support and resources they need to overcome mental health issues. According to a 2022 Gallup poll, some 19% of workers in the United States report having fair or poor mental health, while only 13% would rate their mental health as excellent. 1

While the mental health of workers may seem like a nebulous issue that can be difficult for employers to address, there are several ways those in leadership roles can help to remedy the problem. This article will discuss the importance of mental health in business, how it can impact an organization, and which methods are most effective for improving the mental health of employees over the long term. Read on to learn more.

How Poor Employee Mental Health Negatively Impacts Your Business

The mental health of a workforce is directly correlated to the success of any organization. According to the World Health Organization, up to $1 trillion is lost annually to absenteeism caused by mental health struggles such as anxiety or depression. 2 In addition, workers with mental health struggles are less engaged in the tasks extended to them, exhibit reduced enthusiasm, and are less likely to cultivate innovative ideas on the job. 3 Due to this reduced engagement, employees with mental health challenges may also have difficulties with teamwork and communication which can have serious negative repercussions for the business. Organizations that allow mental health issues to remain unaddressed also experience increased rates of employee burnout and turnover. 4

Effective Approaches for Improving Mental Health at Your Business

Investing directly in initiatives that boost employee mental health doesn’t need to be a costly endeavor. In fact, several studies suggest that for every dollar spent on improving mental health, organizations stand to save $4 in absenteeism and turnover costs. 5 Here are several simple yet effective methods for promoting better mental health at any business.

1. Nurture an Organizational Culture that Values Good Mental Health

One of the best ways to promote mental health in a business is to lead by example. Consider having those in leadership positions attend training courses or seminars on the critical importance of employee mental well-being and the types of behaviors that can help workers live happier, healthier lives. Encourage managers and team leaders to take a leading role in demonstrating positive activities that can boost mental health such as exercise, following a well-rounded diet, or getting more involved in the local community. Given time, businesses can begin to cultivate a culture where tackling mental health issues is met with compassion and encouragement.

2. Provide On-Site Mental Health Support

Giving workers access to a counselor or therapist free of charge is an excellent way to demonstrate commitment to resolving mental health crises. These professionals can provide a sympathetic, unbiased ear to employees which may not always be available in their private lives. Mental health professionals can assist workers with overcoming common issues like depression, anxiety, or work-related stress that’s preventing them from achieving their full potential. Conducting periodic wellness checks on employees can also help to foster an environment where workers feel more comfortable with sharing thoughts and feelings that may otherwise culminate in burnout or unexpected turnovers.

3. Increase Communication with Employees and Respond to Feedback

It’s not uncommon for workers to experience a disconnect between the work they do and the organization as a whole. This situation can lead to feelings of resentment or general resignation towards the job. To alleviate this problem, those in leadership roles should take the time to understand the thoughts and opinions of each employee by meeting face-to-face from time to time. These discussions will provide workers with the opportunity to voice concerns, offer insights, or even propose creative solutions to persistent challenges. Alternatively, business leaders can conduct more frequent performance appraisals or send out anonymous surveys to workers to get a pulse on various aspects of the job that could use improvement. Most importantly, business leaders should explore ways to act upon the feedback provided. When employees see that their thoughts and opinions can actually result in positive change, they will be far more likely to provide honest feedback in the future.

4. Offer Increased Flexibility

Providing employees with greater independence and freedom of choice can help to further improve overall mental health. Consider offering workers greater control over the hours they work so employees can strike a more healthy work-life balance. It may also help to provide certain workers with the choice to work either on-site, from home or at another remote location. Giving employees more agency over when, where, and how they work can help to improve job satisfaction, thus boosting mental health.

5. Remove Stigmatizing Barriers to Mental Health Discussions

Even today, mental health struggles often remain a taboo subject in the business world and many employees may choose to conceal personal challenges for fear of retribution from higher-ups. To overcome this obstacle, employers should seek to remove outdated stigmas regarding mental health through educational resources, teambuilding exercises, and easy access to therapeutic support mechanisms. When employees feel safe to share their concerns or thoughts, they will be far less likely to harbor negative emotions that can harm morale and productivity.

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