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How to Reduce Stress and Improve Mental Health in the Workplace

  • by: Charlotte Robinson
  • On: 3, Jan 2023
3 min read

Many business leaders are looking to improve the mental health of their team, as it improves the overall culture and workplace experience for everyone involved.

For every $1 invested in improving mental health at work, there’s an ROI of $4 in improved health and productivity.

There are many benefits to improving the mental health of your team, and relatively minor changes can make a big difference. 

Why improving mental health at work is important

It increases productivity

 Studies have shown that poor mental health costs businesses over £1,000 a year, per employee, in lost profit potential.  

Conversely, when staff have good mental health at work, when they feel happy and supported and empowered to succeed, they’re more productive. It sounds obvious, but many businesses don’t consider mental health a priority, looking only at the overall productivity and the company’s bottom line.

But productivity increases with good mental health. A study from Oxford University quantified this boost in productivity: happy workers are 13% more productive, so it isn’t just a question of health, it’s also a smart business decision to improve the mental health of your workforce.

 It lowers staff turnover

 Staff who have better mental health at work are far less likely to look for jobs elsewhere.

The security and stability that comes with knowing that your day at work will be easy to manage is incredibly valuable, and for some people far more so than even an increased salary.

It improves workplace culture

 There’s nothing worse than a workplace where no one is happy. It saps morale, derails momentum, and isn’t conducive to good results.

 A team feels supported is more likely to enjoy their work, work better together, and be more motivated to succeed. This feeds back into the overall culture, making your place of work a safer, warmer environment for everyone.

How to improve mental health in the workplace

 Let employees have input into decisions and KPIs

Our mental health suffers when we feel like we don’t have any control over what happens to us. Work is such a huge part of our lives, but often decisions are made without any input from the staff, and this can leave us feeling powerless.

Employees that are brought into the decision-making process often feel more included in the direction the company is taking. 

This also applies to individual KPIs. When employees are working to targets they didn’t set and weren’t consulted on, it can feel like an uphill struggle. When they help to set their own targets, challenges feel more achievable, making the work ahead less daunting.

Start a culture of open dialogue 

Often at work, we’re on our best behaviour all the time. In certain workplace cultures, any expression of difficulty, of struggling with work, or of unhappiness is taken as a criticism of the company as a whole, which often isn’t the case at all. This can lead team members to fear to express themselves, especially if they’re having negative feelings, which isn’t healthy.

In any context, when we’re allowed to express ourselves and feel heard and understood, our mental health improves.

Starting weekly or monthly team meetings, and one to ones between team members and managers, allows everyone to express how they feel at work. This can be things like frustrations, doubts, and worries, but it can also result in pride, compliments, and thanks being shared that otherwise might not.

 Having a designated time where employees feel comfortable and empowered to share their feelings can help them feel listened to, acknowledged, and able to express themselves, which in turn will help their mental health.

Offer mental health benefits

 Realistically, there’s only so much businesses can do to improve mental health at work by themselves. At a certain point, partnering with mental health organisations is really the best thing a business can do to improve the mental health of its employees.

 Many businesses are now offering therapy or counselling as a health benefit alongside gym memberships or health insurance.

Improving the mental health of the team at work will help them be more productive, and ultimately happier at work.

Read about how to address the engineering skills shortage, or learn how Covid-19 changed the job market.

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