How To Improve Mental Well-Being At Work?Publié le 13 October 2021
World Mental Health Day represents an opportunity for employers asking how to improve mental well-being at work to consider what they can do to help employees address these serious and important issues.
October 10th marked World Mental Health Day. More and more, businesses and companies in all types of industries are recognizing the importance of supporting mental well-being in the workplace. This day is an opportunity to have an open discussion about the topic of mental health, removing its stigma, and addressing what employers can do to help employees maintain proper mental well-being while at work.
While mental well-being has always played an important role in the workplace, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation different and more difficult. The past year and a half have seen a dramatic rise in issues related to anxiety, loneliness, isolation and more. With remote work and social distancing measures still in effect to various degrees, it has meant a serious loss of human connection for many people. For businesses wondering how to improve mental well-being at work, they must take into account the different needs of workplaces with remote and hybrid working options.
Mental well-being is something that every person must prioritize, and experiencing difficulty with this is far from uncommon. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada “in any given year, one in five people in Canada experiences a mental health problem or illness.” By looking at some of the more common issues related to mental well-being in the workplace, employers, HR managers and employees can work together to create a better and more supportive environment.
If you or some you know are experiencing serious issues related to mental health, do not hesitate to contact professionals who are ready to help.
Common mental well-being issues in the workplace:
- Anxiety disorders
Depression is “a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.” It can affect a person mentally, emotionally and physically, making it extremely difficult to function. It is not simply feeling sad, but rather is a pervasive condition that affects 5.4% of Canadians. Symptoms of depression, according to the Mayo Clinic, include:
- “Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness”
- “Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters”
- “Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities”
- “Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much”
- “Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort”
Anxiety disorders are characterized by near-constant feelings of fear, stress, nervousness, dread and apprehension about future events, regardless of their probability of actually taking place. People experiencing anxiety can find it difficult to complete regular tasks with the accompanying worry and stress. One survey has found that 3 million Canadians experience anxiety, and these numbers have likely increased as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some symptoms of anxiety disorders include:
- Constantly feeling nervous, restless or tense
- A sense of impending doom
- Increased heart rate and rapid breathing rapidly
- Sweating, trembling and feeling physically weak
- Trouble concentrating
- Periods of insomnia
Everyone experiences periods of tiredness and exhaustion at work, but employee burnout is far more than just feeling tired. Burnout is a severe form of work-related stress and exhaustion, which affects people mentally, emotionally and physically. Burnout can be caused by overwork, unrealistic deadlines, lack of recognition, immense work pressure and poor management. It is very serious, as it can negatively affect people’s health and cause or exacerbate existing issues related to mental well-being. A 2021 survey found that 47% of Canadians reported feeling burnout at work on a daily basis, a number that has increased as businesses transition to remote working models.
Signs of employee burnout include:
- Loss of fulfillment
- Physical and emotional exhaustion
- Mental fatigue
- Feelings of isolation
- Physical side effects
Boredom may not sound as serious as the previously listed conditions, but chronic work boredom can make it more difficult to maintain proper mental well-being, and is a serious sign of larger issues in the workplace. Studies suggest as little as 25% of professionals feel engaged in the workplace. This lack of fulfillment and satisfaction in the workplace can easily spill over into your personal life, creating additional difficulties.
Signs of chronic work boredom include:
- Work days that feel extremely long
- Feeling extremely distracted
- A lack of fulfillment from accomplishments
- Physical, emotional and mental exhaustion
How Can Employers Improve Mental Well-Being At Work?
For employers, company leaders and managers who are asking themselves how to improve mental well-being at work, there are several possible methods. These include:
- Supportive management and benefits
- Work-life balance
- Respect diversity and inclusion
- Supportive corporate culture
- Hybrid working models
Supportive Management and Benefits
Managers, supervisors and company leaders need to be committed to doing everything they can to create a workplace that supports and promotes proper mental well-being. This includes taking time to review the workplace and look for possible issues before they grow and worsen. They should solicit feedback from all employees, and actually implement policies and procedures to address their concerns. A vital component is ensuring that all employees have access to a proper employee benefits package that includes resources and financial support targeting mental well-being.
Everyone talks about maintaining a correct work-life balance, but implementing it in the workplace is still a challenge. This means creating an environment that helps employees mentally leave their work responsibilities behind when the day is complete. This is much more challenging as many companies have transitioned to working from home. Without any physical separation between home and work, it is more difficult than ever to mentally separate the two. This can lead to overwork, stress and burnout due to the pressure of always being in work mode. Employers need to be respectful of the difference between work time and personal time, encourage employees to take their breaks and vacations, and only work an appropriate number of hours.
Respect Diversity and Inclusion
Diverse workplaces are better workplaces. A work team made of people from diverse backgrounds will be able to bring more ideas and approaches to the table, and come up with unique and creative solutions to even the biggest business challenges. Each employee should know that they are respected, that their needs will be met and that their voice will be heard. Company leaders need to respect diversity in the workplace by making sure that every person is treated with respect and feels supported and included at all times. It’s not just good for business, most importantly it is the right thing to do.
Supportive Corporate Culture
A supportive corporate culture is one based on openness, honesty and respect. In this type of work environment, employees are encouraged to speak their minds and bring up any and all issues right away. When employees know that they can turn to their colleagues and to management for support, it can help to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and isolation. When working remotely, it is far too easy for employees to slip into patterns of isolation. Managers need to reach out to all employees and check in on their well-being to ensure that they know they are supported.
Hybrid Working Models
For employers wondering how to improve mental well-being at work, one way is to rethink the traditional way of working itself. The ongoing pandemic has resulted in millions of people working remotely for the first time. While remote work does have its drawbacks, working from home for the past year and a half has proven that the traditional in-person workplace was simply not meeting the needs of employees. Recent polling suggests that a two-thirds majority of Canadians would choose to implement hybrid working models, where there is a mix of work-from-home and in-person working with colleagues. This can take the form of businesses using shared co-working spaces for certain days or weeks, for instance. A hybrid working model can help people to still feel connected with their colleagues and make it easier to maintain a proper work-life balance, thereby reducing some of the aspects of remote work that can make it hard to maintain good mental well-being.
Mental health is vitally important, and it should be discussed not only on World Mental Health Day, but throughout the year. Employers should take this time to consider how to improve mental well-being at work for every one of their employees. Creating a workplace that acknowledges the importance of mental health and provides the support and resources needed to help maintain mental well-being should be the goal for employers and employees alike.
Please note, this article is for educational purposes only. For guidance related to physical, emotional and mental health, please do not hesitate to contact qualified professions.