16 steps to creating a mentally healthy workplace
Having a mentally healthy workplace doesn’t mean struggling to find ways to improve things for your staff. You can make a happier, more productive work environment with a commitment to all kinds of changes, small and large.
Common ways to achieve a mentally healthy workplace include:
- Providing flexibility around start and finish times to facilitate childcare, disability, mental health and lifestyle management (not only for the parents)
- Look at your policies on overtime, presenteeism and holidays. Make it a positive to take time away from work in the evenings, on weekends and to have regular holidays
- Protect worker spare time. Experiment with ideas like company bans on email after hours or a four-day working week and see what happens to your productivity
- Normalise having a life outside work. Celebrate what people do in their off time. Promote their creative endeavours and normalise their travel. Ask people about their children and have an interest in their lives. This not only encourages workers to think about the life in work-life balance, it also gives you the chance to understand each other on a far more human level. That may even reduce your bullying and miscommunication issues
- Increase job security. One of the most stressful situations for the Australian workforce is the increased casualisation and reduced job security. It leads your workers to feel unsupported, disconnected, and unable to make long term or significant life choices. You cannot expect a loyal team to bring their A game during tough times if their job is insecure
- Offer telecommuting and/or coworking arrangements. Ensuring that you understand the impacts of commuting and offer telecommuting options to appropriate staff
- Having a training budget so that your workers can learn new skills and stay engaged rather than seek their workplace challenge elsewhere
- Promote emotionally intelligent managers. In people managing circles, it’s far more beneficial to train a manager with the right mindset on software and operations then promote the person with the CV checkboxes who is combative, dictatorial or conceited
- Aim for well-rounded over Rockstar employees. Don’t fall for the trap of the resident genius or tortured artist who attempts to mould the workplace in their less than ideal image
- Support your staff to make healthy choices. Consider replacing the beer and pizza nights with a fridge of healthy drinks and snacks during the week. Look at getting a company discount for a nearby gym. Focus on making healthy options the new normal
- Changing the dialogue around success in a mentally healthy workplace. Giving your workers the opportunity to be a part of something more than sales goals or analytics is important. The hyper competitiveness of the workplace can create a sense of scarcity and powerlessness. Instead of focusing on money, fame and prestige, bring purpose back into the fold. Both on a company-wide and individual employee focussed level
- Having an open-door policy on discussion of mental health. As the stigma still continues, workers are suffering in silence. By promoting the ability for your staff to bring their concerns to a safe, supportive and confidential environment, you can reduce some of the more negative impacts of mental health through early treatment and detection
- Value team input. Programs designed by your workforce to promote mentally healthy workplace strategies that are for the people by the people have greater adoption and are far more relevant to an individual workplace’s needs than those designed in isolation
- Promote diversity and inclusion. The more you focus on hearing from a diverse array of voices in your workplace, the more people will feel included. Inclusion still rates highly for LGBTQIA+, culturally diverse and disabled workers. That means a significant proportion of your workplace and future talent pool need to feel safe, supported and accepted in today’s workplaces
- Introduce a volunteering program. Giving back to the community is a great way for workplaces to reduce stress, learn new skills, work together as a team, ground your employees and make them feel good while they do good in the process
- Integrate freelance talent into the mix. Freelancers help workplaces not get stuck in a rut. We introduce new concepts and new ideas. We bring the need to break up the clique and make for fluid relationships. Plus, we can promote some pretty great values regarding efficiency, doing a lot with very little, and employing creative problem solving. At the very least, we’ll train you away from your chronic meeting addiction!
It’s a movement, not a moment
Move beyond lip-service when it comes to workplace wellness. A company that only gets interested in mental health on R U OK day isn’t one that workers trust. Take the time to critically analyse your workplace performance. By open to accepting feedback on the ways you do and don’t support workplace well-being.
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