Mental Health in the Workplace: World Mental Health Day

It’s World Mental Health Day. At T2M Resourcing we’re using this time to look at what businesses can do to help create a positive work culture and improve mental health in the workplace!

Mental Health in the workplace

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, there had been an improved focus on mental health in the workplace, with approximately 84% of businesses increasing their focus on looking after employees’ mental health and 83% of businesses providing more tailored support to address individuals’ needs and concerns.

As the popularity of hybrid and remote working has risen over the last few years, there has been more emphasis placed on ensuring employees don’t feel isolated.

Home working has been shown to be a cause of loneliness. According to Microsoft’s New Future of Work Report, there has been mixed results regarding the effects on mental health. Some remote workers have reported higher degrees of positive emotions and lower degrees of negative emotions. However other research has shown that working from home can cause an increase in other negative emotions such as guilt and irritability which often causes employees to end up overcompensating at work, causing emotional exhaustion.

Providing employees with organisational support allows them to feel less isolated, which has also been shown to improve job satisfaction levels.

According to BBC News, 81% of under-35s feared loneliness from long-term home working, however, it’s important to remember that individuals feel and react differently to different circumstances.

To minimise that issue, employees should be provided with appropriate support. An organisation’s approach to mental well-being should look at people as individuals with varying needs and may require tailored support, as opposed to expecting everyone to be affected in the same way.

For others, hybrid working has improved their mental health by reducing stress levels, proving a healthier routine, improving time management and eradicating commuting time – which is proving people with more spare time to spend on hobbies outside of the workplace.

Why positive work culture matters to employee’s mental health

Many businesses assume that pushing their employees to perform will encourage them to achieve the productivity and output level that they expect. However, this often has the opposite effect, with employees feeling underappreciated, burnt out and demotivated.

Creating positive work cultures can create significant and lasting benefits for companies, employers and profit margins alike. People are seeking out companies with supportive cultures in place.

Happy employees in a positive work culture work hard, focus more, and are more engaged in the work they’re assigned. Unhappy employees are regularly stressed and tend to disengage, impacting productivity, the workplace environment, as well as employee mental health.

Various ways we’ve found businesses manage mental health in the workplace include: 

  • Set an example to employees to create a positive workplace culture. What’s commonly known as ‘The Toxic Workplace Culture’ has been shown to impact mental health, physical health, and workplace productivity.
  • Encouraging employees to take their regular breaks and annual leave entitlement.
  • Let your employees and team members know that they’re valued. A verbal compliment and recognition of someone’s work might seem small to some, but for some employees knowing that they are appreciated helps them to understand their importance within the business, boosts their mood, and helps productivity.
  • Offering various mental and physical health benefits at work where possible.
  • Encouraging flexible working practises where possible.
  • Most importantly, ask your employees what they need from you. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to tackling this issue, get to know employees individually and understand what you can do to help ensure their stress levels and mental health don’t become a problem for them inside and outside of the workplace.
What guidance should employers seek?

According to the mental health charity, Mind, more than one in five people (21%) agreed that they had called in sick to avoid work due to workplace stress.

14% of people had resigned from their job, with 42% saying they had considered resigning when asked how workplace stress had affected them.

30% of staff disagreed with the statement ‘I would feel able to talk openly with my line manager if I was feeling stressed’.

42% of employees believed that toxic workplace culture has impacted their mental health and 41% agreed toxic workplace culture effected their productivity at work.

Despite all of this, 56% of employers said they would like to do more to improve staff wellbeing but don’t feel they have the right training or guidance.

Whilst we understand that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to tackling this issue, the good news is there are plenty of resources available to leaders. If your business has 250 or fewer employees, then you might benefit from seeing guidance at the Mental Health at Work website.

If your organisation is a bit bigger and you have more employees to support, then you could benefit from eLearning courses, Mind offer several courses, some of which are CPD (Continuing Professional Development) accredited.

The benefit for business

One in seven adults has a mental health disorder, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates. This ends up resulting in about 12 billion working days globally lost each year.

By providing mental health support in the workplace, you are not only helping to add real value to employees lives but are also helping to reduce the number of working days lost, allowing your business to have an improved atmosphere, work culture, which often will cause employees to be more productive and more likely to stay on with you in the future.

What are you doing to raise awareness for mental health in your workplace?