Awareness of the importance of mental wellness is somehow growing. Progressive organizations and executives around the world are steadily embracing the issue of mental health. Yet, despite this, there is a long way to go in creating workplaces that actively support mental well-being.
Mental health and well-being describe our mental state, how we are feeling and how well we can cope with day-to-day life. Our mental state shapes how we make decisions, how we interrelate to those around us, our ability to work productively: it impacts our overall health.
As data about the issues of mental health in the workplace started to set off a red alert, organizations have begun to recognize a shift in where and how people work is important to support employee’s overall health. For example a recent Gallup study indicates that some of the main factors that cause employee mental unease at work have less to do with expectations for hard work and high performance, and more with how someone is managed. Factors such as unfair treatment at work, unmanageable workload, lack of role clarity, lack of communication and support from a manager, unreasonable time pressure, amongst others are being a risk factor in affecting employee’s mental well-being.
If today’s rapidly changing economy requires an engaged, resilient and innovative workforce, more organizations need to better consider that benefiting from increased productivity comes along with investments in employee well-being. In the same way that physical health in the workplace needs to be supported, mental wellness needs to be better prioritized across the whole organization.
For instance after a considerable two-year study of team performance, Google found that “psychological safety” was by far the most important factor in the formation of effective, cohesive teams, defining it as the quality that allows team members to “feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of one another”.
In order to have organizations where employees can feel safe and be allowed to be vulnerable, collective attitudes and perceptions need to be open and supportive and have an open dialogue around employee’s struggles that may impact their work. A recent Deloitte report indicates that the first step to start creating a culture around mental well-being is breaking the stigma about mental health; as well as, providing supportive environments that encourage teamwork, making work purposeful, designing jobs that allow for autonomy, placing performance expectations and metrics within employee’s control, providing adequate work spaces that reduce noise and interruptions, among others.
It may seem that setting the bases for a culture that support mental wellness is closely related to creating an environment where trust, flexibility and resilience pervade. Organizations have in their role a great responsibility to nurture employee resilience and wellness; after all a healthy workforce is vital to an entity’s competitiveness, productivity and well-being.