How to improve mental health in the workplace
According to a recent study, 41% of U.S. employees say they are experiencing burnout
After the coronavirus swept the globe last year, companies nationwide were forced to close their doors and send employees home.
Essential workers who continued performing their jobs in-person experienced brutal conditions (especially healthcare workers), and remote employees quickly realized that working in isolation comes with its own set of problems.
These sudden, drastic changes to the status quo took a toll on many individuals’ mental health, and it seems employers haven’t necessarily helped the situation.
According to a recent study by Clever, 41% of U.S. employees say they are experiencing burnout, which is characterized by feelings of exhaustion, depletion and cynicism about work.
Moreover, in Colorado, more than one in three adults have reported feelings of anxiety and/or depressive disorder since last May, yet many do not receive the treatment they need either due to lack of access or fear of stigma.
What can business owners and managers do to reverse this trend? This article will cover how employers can tackle the mental health crisis head on and why addressing these issues are critical to the future of business in Colorado.
Tackling Work-Related Stress
In Clever’s study, only 17% of workers said they feel their organization makes mental health a priority, while 87% of respondents said their job impacts their mental health. This is quite telling, as work-related stress is often exacerbated by mental health disorders and vice versa.
The new work environment employers and employees have been facing can make it difficult to address emotional wellbeing. With a few adjustments to internal policies and a bit of empathy, however, companies can foster a healthier and more positive culture.
The rise of remote work has not only changed where people work but also how they work. Employees may be signing on earlier or logging off later, taking care of children, or running errands during the day. As the lines between office and home have blurred, these changes are to be expected, so offering a flexible work schedule can help ease the added stress.
Communicate about mental health resources
Sometimes, employees who need therapy or treatment do not always seek it out. This can be due to a fear of being stigmatized or simply not knowing their employer offers mental health resources. Communicating about healthcare plans, employee assistance programs (EAP) and wellness offerings can help normalize their use.
Encourage time off
Mandatory lockdowns and social distancing measures have stopped many people from taking time off. In Clever’s survey, only 14% of respondents used all their vacation days in 2020, despite evidence showing that they desperately needed a break. Encouraging people to use their PTO, even if it’s just for a ‘staycation,’ can help them recharge.
Many Americans have been hit hard financially during the pandemic. Even if a company did not reduce salaries, their employees may have spouses or relatives who lost their jobs, who they are now supporting on their own.
In fact, 43% of Americans report having no emergency savings, and 38% have accumulated personal debts of $3,000 or more in the past year. If a business is in a position to offer financial support, bonuses or merit-based pay increases, this could greatly help their staff’s stress levels.
Change how you measure success
Managing a dispersed workforce is no easy task. Not being able to ‘see’ the work a team is doing can be stressful when there are deadlines to meet and assignments to complete.
Instead of resorting to micromanagement, business leaders should set clear expectations and judge the quality of an employee’s output when measuring their success.
A Happier Workforce
Addressing mental health issues in the workplace can elevate a company’s performance in multiple ways.
Consider: General job stress costs U.S. companies an estimated $300 billion per year in the form of reduced productivity, absenteeism, accidents, and more.
Two of the benefits of remote work have been an increase in flexibility and productivity, which have both been shown to reduce employee stress.
In Clever Real Estate’s 2020 Remote and Office Survey, 61% of remote workers said they enjoyed the increased flexibility that comes with working from home, and 39% of respondents said they were more productive at home.
Although the transition to a dispersed workforce was initially tough on businesses, there are certain lessons they can take from this experience.
Keeping the things employees liked about remote work and getting rid of policies that did not positively serve company culture can do wonders for a team’s emotional wellbeing.
This is also something for those in the commercial real estate industry — whether investors, landlords, or property managers — to keep in mind as office spaces will likely evolve into a more flexible set up.
As companies begin to reopen their physical office spaces, they should keep in mind that the nature of work has changed. Companies that try to completely go back to the way things were before the pandemic will likely not be successful. Modifying policies to match new expectations about the workplace and addressing mental health issues will be a key to staying ahead in this brave new world.
Kristen is the PR editor at Clever, a real estate data firm. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and cheering on the Denver Broncos and Missouri Tigers. Connect with Kristen on LinkedIn, or reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.