How Companies Can Create A Culture That Prioritizes Mental Health

by Creating Change Mag
How Companies Can Create A Culture That Prioritizes Mental Health

CEO of – Helping CEOs make awesome strategic decisions and develop healthy, high performing teams.

I think all businesses should become places where people (employees) can improve their mental and physical health. Many of us have given blood, sweat and tears to the businesses we have worked for, sacrificing that weekend away to get a proposal out, staying late and ordering pizza to the office instead of going home for dinner, or dealing with the stress that finally ground us down to a grumpy shadow of our former self.

I have helped build high performing teams and establish positive mental health initiatives in multiple businesses globally. I was inspired to do this after working in multiple toxic workplaces where there was no regard to mental health, and I suffered and spiraled into depression and self-medicating.

How can a negative work culture impact employees?

The workplace is where we spend a large part of our waking lives, and it can be a significant source of anxiety, anger and frustration. The American Institute of Stress reports that “83% of US workers suffer from work-related stress, with 25% saying their job is the number one stressor in their lives.”

I’ve found employees commonly associate negative workplaces with:

• Lack of work-life balance, leading to excessive work hours and little time for personal life.

• Poor communication and feedback, which can lead to uncertainty and anxiety among employees.

• High levels of stress and pressure to meet unrealistic goals and targets.

• Toxic relationships and bullying behavior, which can lead to feelings of isolation and negative self-esteem.

• Lack of support and recognition for employee achievements, which can lead to feelings of undervaluation and demotivation.

The good news, however, is that company leaders can be part of the solution. The workplace can provide people with a sense of accomplishment, financial stability and social connections, which can contribute to our overall well-being and sense of purpose. In addition, the skills and knowledge gained through work can enhance our sense of competence and confidence.

How can companies support mental health?

Creating a positive workplace that prioritizes mental health can help to improve employee well-being and boost organizational productivity. Here are some steps you can take as a leader to create a positive workplace culture that prioritizes mental health:

1. Develop a clear and comprehensive mental health policy that outlines the company’s commitment to employee well-being and provides information on resources available to employees.

2. Foster a culture of open communication, and encourage employees to speak openly about mental health concerns.

3. Provide mental health training for all employees, including managers and supervisors, to ensure they have the tools and resources needed to recognize and support mental health needs.

4. Encourage work-life balance by offering flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting, job sharing or flexible schedules.

5. Create a positive work environment that supports well-being, such as providing ergonomic workstations, natural light and green spaces.

6. Provide access to mental health resources, such as an employee assistance program or counseling service.

7. Support physical activity and healthy lifestyle choices by offering wellness programs, gym memberships or healthy snack options.

8. Provide regular feedback and recognition for employees to help boost motivation and job satisfaction.

9. Foster a sense of community and social support through team-building activities and social events.

10. Continuously monitor and evaluate the company’s mental health policies and programs to ensure they are effective and meeting the needs of employees.

Get buy-in by highlighting the benefits for businesses.

Creating a positive workplace needs to be supported from the executive team, down, and I suggest to tie the KPIs of all senior management to this goal. The business must “walk the walk” not just “talk the talk.”

And finally, if there is any pushback on costs associated with implementing any initiatives that help build a positive mental health workplace, point to the data:

• According to a 2017 report by Deloitte, organizations that invest in mental health programs and create a positive mental health culture can see a return on investment of up to 6-to-1.

• In a 2020 survey by Deloitte, 80% of respondents said a focus on well-being was important to their company’s success.

• A study by the Harvard Business Review from 2021 found that companies that prioritize employee well-being and mental health have employees with higher job satisfaction and intentions to stay with the company.

Having a healthy, high performing team is not just a benefit to businesses. It can create happier people who go into the world in a better state of mind with more resilience and confidence. The ripple effect can go far beyond the office and impact society positively at every encounter. Who doesn’t want that in the world?

Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?

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