Keeping your mental health in check is crucial while working remotely. What can individuals do to maintain it? And how can businesses support mental health awareness in the workplace? For answers to these queries, continue reading.
For over seventy years, Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in the United States to combat the social stigma surrounding mental illness. Sadly, mental health concerns are too frequent in the US, making it imperative for companies to adopt proactive measures to ensure their employees can access adequate support and resources. In March 2022, the American Psychological Association carried out a study that found many individuals are struggling to cope due to the compounding pressures of inflation, the ongoing pandemic, and the conflict in Ukraine. This emphasizes the importance of organisations taking proactive steps to address mental health concerns in the workplace.
A McKinsey report highlights the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of employees, causing anxiety and depression and negatively affecting productivity. This has resulted in a shocking annual cost of one trillion dollars to the global economy.
Despite these figures, individuals often avoid disclosing their mental health concerns at work due to the fear of facing criticism.
Inadequate treatment and support for mental health concerns can significantly impact an individual’s personal growth, happiness, and overall wellbeing. Therefore, prioritizing mental health awareness at work is crucial for reducing the negative impact of these conditions. By doing so, organisations can ensure that employees feel comfortable and supported while also safeguarding the safety and prosperity of the business.
It’s equally essential for companies to understand their employees’ needs and offer required support whenever possible. Executives and managers should lead by example in demonstrating empathy and encouraging employees to seek help without hesitation.
Does remote work benefit one’s mental health? What are the advantages of working from home?
A survey found that 70% of participants believed remote work had a beneficial effect on their mental health. Additionally, more than half the employees stated they would choose an employer that offered the option of remote work, and a larger percentage (74%) said it would make them less likely to leave their current company.
The benefits of working remotely are:
- Remote work can create a more inclusive and diverse work environment, welcoming individuals from all backgrounds without any discrimination based on religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. It also provides a sense of security and comfort to employees, with 80% of remote workers being willing to switch jobs for better mental health support. These findings suggest that remote work could be instrumental in promoting job satisfaction, diversity, and fairness in the workplace. (source)
- During the Covid-19 pandemic, numerous working mothers were compelled to quit their jobs due to the immense pressure of balancing their professional and domestic responsibilities, compounded by limited childcare services. The emergence of remote work opportunities, on the other hand, has allowed these women to spend more time with their families. Recent studies indicate that 32% of women are much less inclined to leave their current employment if given the option to work remotely. (source)
- Remote work eliminates the need for commuting, which positively impacts employee productivity and reduces stress levels. Reduced stress levels lead to improved health and productivity, with studies revealing up to a 39% decrease in stress levels due to remote work. (source)
- Remote work allows employees to create their own work environment, free from distractions and interruptions. This personalized working pattern provides a sustainable way of working that helps them remain productive for longer periods.
How can you foster mental well-being among your employees at work?
According to the Mental Health Foundation, companies with a positive mental health culture are generally more efficient. Thus, businesses should aim to establish a sympathetic and inclusive environment that promotes the mental well-being of their staff. Creating such an environment enhances the team’s morale and productivity, resulting in greater business success and profitability.
These are the top five recommendations for improving mental health in the workplace.
Research has shown that generous leave policies can lower job stress and burnout, resulting in significant improvements for companies that adopt them. These benefits include higher employee satisfaction, improved work-life balance, increased productivity, and better job performance, among others.
- Building Personal Relationships
- Career Satisfaction
- Energy Levels
- Creativity and Innovation
Employee holiday entitlement has advantageous outcomes.
- Staff can recharge and rejuvenate.
- Effectively Address Mental Health Issues
- Improve Focus and Concentration
Leading companies offer paid time off (PTO) and vacation benefits to encourage their employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Goldman Sachs will implement a new policy in 2023, requiring employees to utilise at least a 3-week paid leave annually. On the other hand, Netflix’s “No Vacation Policy” grants its staff the autonomy to manage their workload and holidays as they see fit. Meanwhile, Sony Electronics provides their workforce with paid vacation and holidays to maintain their well-being and promote a balanced work-life.
Glassdoor reports that Evernote offers limitless paid time off (PTO) to its employees. Additionally, personnel receive a yearly $1,000 vacation budget to fund a trip to a destination of their choice.
Flexible Working Hours
Flexible working hours significantly benefit employee mental health. Some of its prominent advantages include:
- Enhanced physical and mental well-being
- Improved concentration and focus during work hours
- Heightened work motivation and job satisfaction
The trend of “Flexidus,” a term denoting when women leave their jobs due to a lack of flexibility in the work setup, has grown increasingly popular post the Great Resignation phase in recent years. A recent LinkedIn survey disclosed that over half of women (52%) have either resigned from their job or contemplated doing so due to inflexible work conditions. It is clear that workers place more importance on having flexible working hours than they do to career growth opportunities.
The results of Bankrate’s February 2022 Job Seeker Poll have shown that a majority of employees (55%) believe that working from home or having a more flexible schedule is more essential in today’s times than prior to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. Comparatively, 52% of employees value increased pay more.
Cloud computing pioneer, Salesforce, is transforming the conventional work paradigm with its new offering, Flex Schedule. The innovative work schedule allows employees the liberty to decide when, how, and where they work, permitting them to work remotely for one to three days per week while still being involved in collaborative tasks, customer interactions, and company presentations.
Basecamp, Bolt, Buffer, and DNS Philtre are among the companies offering employment flexibility via the provision of four-day workweeks and work-from-home opportunities.
Breaks to Promote Mental Wellbeing
Companies that give importance to fostering a work atmosphere that encourages employees to take breaks and time off are at an advantage compared to their competition. Allowing the brain adequate time to rest and recover can greatly enhance crucial business skills, such as communication and decision-making. Below are some of our suggestions to aid employees in revitalising their energy levels:
- Incorporating simple breaks for yoga sessions, meditation or taking a day off.
- Opportunities for hobbies during breaks, such as reading, sketching, painting, exercising, watching a favourite show or cooking.
Eyegaze Inc. provided free mobile applications to their employees to enhance their mental health and overall wellbeing. These applications were created to improve emotional resilience and quality of sleep.
Ernst & Young (EY) conducted drop-in sessions frequently to aid their workers during the pandemic. These workshops consisted of brief mindfulness exercises that addressed issues such as managing anxiety, social isolation, and feeling overwhelmed. Additionally, EY offered a free twelve-week mindfulness programme and daily guided practice sessions. Further extending aid, EY provided backup childcare and adult assistance, alongside virtual yoga, gym courses, and volunteering possibilities.
Disconnecting from work after working hours can effectively promote mental health and wellbeing. Detaching from work-related activities aids in restoring work-life balance, enhancing sleep quality, and minimising tiredness and stress levels. To guarantee a successful unplugging experience, follow the steps mentioned below:
- Avoid frequently checking emails
- Informing colleagues and clients of your unavailability
- Give importance to work calls, both scheduled and unscheduled
- Mute notifications for work-related group communications.
Several years prior, Volkswagen implemented a policy that restricted work-related emails after work hours. In compliance with this policy, the company’s internal systems were configured to prevent emails from being sent to individual accounts between 6:15 p.m. and 7 a.m. As a result, staff members had no obligation to focus on work-related activities during this period. This cautious approach allowed employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance and relish their evenings outside of work.
Several organisations are proactively supporting their employees to take a break from work by enforcing various methods, such as disabling communication and collaboration tools outside of work hours. These steps are taken to motivate workers to take a break from their work duties and invest in their personal wellness.
Job-related stress is a widespread issue in the United States, with 83% of workers stating that it contributes to their subpar performance. In addition, 25% of employees consider their profession as the most significant source of stress in their life. Elements such as extended work hours, excessive workloads, job insecurity, inadequate performance, and conflicts with colleagues all negatively impact organisational productivity. It is evident that addressing workplace stress is vital for businesses to achieve their aims and sustain competitiveness in the present-day economy.
We, at Symetria Recovery, place great significance on mental wellbeing at the workplace, and facilitate professional counselling services for our employees. Our in-house psychologist is accessible every week to assess the employees’ mental health and identify any problems that may affect decision-making or increase stress or anxiety levels. For workers who fail the assessment, we recommend they take a day off to rest and recover. It is our belief that by providing such services, we can encourage our staff to lead healthier and more productive lives.
Last but not the least, how can you promote mental wellbeing at work?
Encouraging mental health awareness in the workplace is crucial for all corporations, irrespective of their size. By adopting efficient methods to address staff members’ mental health issues, organisations can establish a favourable work atmosphere and guarantee their employees’ well-being. Based on the company’s nature and magnitude, the particular measures taken to promote mental health may differ. Nonetheless, regardless of its size, it is essential to have proper systems in position to support the mental wellness of workers.
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What is the significance of workplace mental health awareness?Workplace mental health awareness is about generating an environment that is welcoming to employees, and where they feel comfortable revealing their mental health concerns.
How can we improve mental wellbeing in the workplace?Here are some recommendations for boosting mental health in the workplace:
- Providing holiday benefits
- Flexible working hours
- Encouraging a healthy balance between work and personal life
- Establishing boundaries
Why is Mental Health Awareness Month important?Mental Health Awareness Month plays a crucial role in promoting awareness about mental health problems and encouraging their solutions.