Management & Leadership

Prioritizing Your Employees’ Mental Health During Stressful Times

Does your company have an open dialogue about prioritizing mental health? 79% of employers said they have an open and inclusive environment that encourages dialogue about mental health, but only 52% of workers share that sentiment. With burnout and stress on the rise since the start of the pandemic, many employers and workers have taken time to reflect on their priorities. Promoting a healthy work-life balance is extremely important, now more than ever.

A work environment that is demanding and time-consuming with no room for work-life balance only leads to stress and burnout. This has an overall negative impact on your employees, both in the work environment and outside work. 

You want your employees to be proactive, motivated and happy in their careers. Stressful projects are inevitable but encouraging your employees to focus on themselves and recharge when necessary is what will help them manage the stress and avoid burnout.  

6 Important Ways to Prioritize Your Employees’ Mental Health 

Follow these helpful steps to avoid your employees feeling burnt out and prioritize their mental health instead. 

1. Allow for boundaries 

Setting boundaries is a crucial part of putting mental health first. Boundaries are important to enable employees to switch off at the end of the day and avoid overworking. This is especially a problem with working from home as it can be difficult to completely “unplug” from work-related emails or calls. As SHRM notes, “the typical 24/7 ‘always-on’ work culture is causing increased employee burnout.”

Encourage your employees to not answer emails outside of work hours, and instead focus on their families or other personal interests. This will help employees feel like they can switch off and disconnect from work at the end of the day, and balance work with the other things they enjoy in life.

2. Encourage breaks during the day 

Taking small breaks, especially to get some fresh air, is a great way to recharge during the day. According to Tork, 40% of workers take breaks occasionally, rarely or never. Being able to step away for a little bit, especially enjoying a lunch break, has boosted productivity and reduced stress in the long run. In fact, skipping lunch breaks can lead to unhealthy habits that negatively impact mental health.

3. Focus on connection and culture 

As some of your employees may work from home, feelings of isolation can creep up every now and then. It’s important to promote workplace culture even when not everyone is physically present at the “office.” Schedule informal meetings where colleagues can get to know each other outside of work. It could also be a fun idea to get the team together to volunteer for a good cause. Volunteering together will immediately give the team a great opportunity to bond and connect with each other.

4. Provide support 

Everybody has bad days or feels overwhelmed by challenging projects. Encourage your employees to come to you for support when needed. Lead with empathy and give them a helping hand, taking the time to listen. If employees feel they can turn to their employer and can trust them, they will feel like they are supported when times get hard and know that they are well taken care of.

5. Help reduce stress 

Employees should feel comfortable about addressing mental health at work. This means that employers should be open to feedback, and take the time to incorporate flexibility and work-life balance into the work culture. People should feel like they are able to manage their stress at work and even be able to take the time they need to cope with stress during challenging times.

6. Vacation time is important 

It’s extremely common for employees to not use all their PTO! Vacation time is essential for people to be able to recharge, take time off and connect with their families and friends outside of their daily routines. One study found that employees whose company encourages the use of vacation time were happier with their jobs than those whose companies discourage taking time off (SHRM). Encourage your employees to take their PTO days and ensure they truly do get the time to relax by allowing them to disconnect from work emails and calls.

It’s important to remember that your employees have a life outside of work, too. Encouraging your employees to lead more balanced lives will only promote healthier routines and a more fulfilling lifestyle. With this approach, you will see lower turnover, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and happier employees.

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