HR Management & Compliance

How to Improve Employee Mental Health at Work

Mental health impacts all aspects of our lives, including our work life. As such, it makes sense for employers to care about the mental well-being of their employees—and to take proactive steps to help them improve their mental health in general.

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Luckily, there are many things employers can do—both big and small—to positively impact employee mental health. Here are some examples of ways employers can help:

  • Ensure the work space has as much natural light as possible. This might mean adding windows or skylights or focusing on this component when searching for or building a new workplace.
  • Encourage employees to take walk breaks. Walking can be invigorating. And for some types of jobs, it may be the primary movement a person gets during the day, making it even more important. This is a small way employers can encourage activity.
  • Consider adding plants to the work space. Having greenery around can make a space seem more inviting and comforting, even if it’s subtle.
  • Offer opportunities to be social, but make them optional.
  • Give employees enough autonomy with their work so they feel trusted.
  • Train managers not to micromanage.
  • Cultivate a culture that values respect for others.
  • Discipline employees who cause problems before the problems become worse.
  • Take complaints seriously, and investigate them appropriately.
  • Implement an employee wellness program to help improve overall wellness levels for everyone.
  • Provide other benefits that can improve mental health, like free gym memberships. (Physical activity can improve mental health, too.)
  • Ensure that the healthcare benefits on offer include mental health care, and communicate this.
  • Talk openly about mental health to help reduce the stigma associated with it. Just the simple idea of making it OK to talk about mental health can allow employees to feel more comfortable coming to management when they need help. This can go a long way toward helping employees get what they need to improve their mental health daily.
  • Ensure employees have options to keep a good work/life balance. This might mean allowing appointments to be taken in the middle of the workday or providing flexibility in working hours, for example. It could even be as simple as not requiring too much overtime or taking active steps to ensure employees take their allotted vacation time (and offering an appropriate amount of paid vacation time in the first place).
  • Avoid employee burnout by routinely assessing employee workload and taking steps to keep it in balance.
  • Train managers on recognizing burnout and taking steps to reduce it.
  • Consider offering an employee assistance program (EAP) if you don’t already have one. If you do have one, ensure it’s communicated clearly and employees are aware of their options.
  • Pay employees a fair amount to reduce the likelihood of financial stressors.
  • Consider offering financial wellness services to help address financial stressors.
  • Train managers to respond appropriately when an employee comes to them with mental health concerns that may need accommodations.
  • Encourage employees to take their breaks throughout the day.
  • Offer healthy snack alternatives whenever food is offered. Staying physically healthy can impact mental health.
  • Recognize employees’ hard work, and show them they’re appreciated.

What other steps has your organization taken to positively influence employee mental well-being? What has worked well for you?