Employee mental health and why you should make it part of your business strategy

19th March 2020 | 3 min read

In recent years, we have realised that mental health in the workplace is incredibly important. With our increasingly fast-paced lives and workplace pressures, often our health suffers as a result and we find it difficult to achieve a healthy work-life balance. For this reason, many companies are starting to invest more time and money into employee mental health, offering mental health training schemes, flexible working and other initiatives to ensure employees are healthy, happy and as stress-free as possible. In this article, we explain why making employee mental health part of your business strategy is a smart move, and offer tips on how to do this.

The benefits of mental health schemes

With more and more companies starting to implement mental health schemes in the workplace, we have seen numerous benefits as a result. Not only do employees whose mental health is looked after report higher job satisfaction, but they are more positive, more productive, and are less likely to need sick leave. So, if higher job satisfaction, increased employee productivity and higher job retention sound good to you, read on to find out how you can make mental health a focal point of your business strategy.

Implement a mental health ally scheme

If you increase the number of people equipped to deal with mental health issues in your company, you’ll be able to reach more employees and increase your chances of nurturing a happier, healthier workplace. Do some research on how to form a mental health ally scheme, or mental health-focused employee resource group (ERG) and look into providing training to key members of staff. These members of staff should learn how to recognise mental health issues and be able to supportively, effectively and responsibly deal with them. Then, make sure these key staff members are widely known in the business for being wellness ambassadors, and encourage employees to seek out these members of staff if they are struggling.

Encourage flexible working where possible

When employees feel stressed, anxious or depressed, at times coming into work can make these feelings worse. The day-to-day stresses in a working environment and pressures to stay on top of your workload means that often employees feel that they are unable to take time off, to avoid missing deadlines or falling behind. However, by adding flexible working to your business strategy, employees can work from home or work somewhere else when they need, hopefully helping them to feel calmer, more comfortable, and less stressed.

Revitalise your workspace

It has been shown that our working environment can have a profound effect on our mental health; from the colours of the walls to the way the office space is laid out. Consider revitalising your workplace by making some small changes to the environment. Plants have been proven to affect our mood, so by adding some greenery around the building your employees will notice an instant difference. Lighting is also important – try to ensure there is as much natural light as possible coming into the building, and in darker spots add in some overhead lighting or desk lamps. You could also encourage staff to add personal touches to their workspace, such as photos and small ornaments.

Collect regular feedback

Once your mental health action plan is up and running, try to collect regular feedback from employees on what is and isn’t working. Regular company-wide surveys should help you to collect this type of data, as well as arranging talks and learning sessions to further spread the message. Every so often, mental health allies should undergo refresher training, or you could add new allies to the scheme if you allocate budget for more training.

Aside from the aforementioned tips, try to make sure your workplace is as positive as possible by offering employees regular perks and fun team activities to boost morale and encourage bonding. Stronger teams means that your employees will feel supported if they have any problems, helping to create a happier, healthier workforce.