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Why Should Your Organization Make Mental Health a Priority?
Mental health issues in your workforce can sabotage the success of your organization in many subtle ways. By ensuring the happiness and well-being of your employees, you set up your company to succeed. When you allow your employees to reach their potential and buy into your organization’s values, you ensure productivity and sustainable performance.
Mental health has always been a pervasive issue in the workplace. There’s no point in pretending that it’s a recent phenomenon. People have always experienced burnout, depression, emotional detachment, and disengagement at work. And organizations have always dealt with the consequences, often in the form of high employee turnover.
The ongoing global pandemic has made the mental health situation worse, however. The question is: how can you protect your company and workforce from the effects of mental health issues?
Mental health is the cornerstone of your employees’ well-being and productivity.
Why Your Company Should Care About its Employees’ Mental Health
High employee turnover can be devastating in and of itself. But it is far from being the only toxic effect of widespread mental health problems in your workforce. Such issues can hamstring your organization on many levels and in many unexpected ways.
- Sick absenteeism. Depression and disengagement coupled with burnout can quickly turn mental problems into physical ones. Depressed employees may call in sick because they feel unable to get out of bed. Productivity suffers due to absenteeism. Not making it to work results in reduced pay, further encouraging disengagement in a vicious circle-like self-propagating process.
- Declining productivity. Even when they make it to work, burnt-out, depressed employees find it impossible to muster motivation. Without motivation, there is no engagement, and productivity suffers. For someone struggling with depression, it may take five times longer to complete a task than it would otherwise.
- Toxic work environment. With pervasive mental health issues and an employer who is unaware of the problem, employer-employee relationships suffer. The workplace turns into a toxic, hostile environment, where employees are more likely to quit.
Leadership Coaching and Solutions to the Employee Mental Health Problem
Leadership coaching offers solutions to many problems executives fail to recognize and address. In the context of mental health, executive coaching professionals can give leaders the support and guidance they need to address and eliminate the problem on a personal and workforce level.
Mental health issues can have many causes. And executives aren’t immune from such problems by their position. In many organizations, executives are the most exposed due to their stressful work.
The Causes of Mental Health Issues at Work
In my executive coaching books and posts, I have always treated healthy organizational cultures as the cornerstones of intelligent leadership. A hostile culture amplifies the problems that can become the sources of employee depression, resentment, and disengagement. Such problems are:
- Long working hours
- No breaks
- The unfair distribution of resources and rewards
- The inequitable distribution of workplace burdens
- Employer hostility
The first step in addressing mental health issues is to review workplace policies under the possible guidance of a business coaching professional and assess the unintentional harm these policies may cause.
Helping Employees Become Happier and More Productive
Employee happiness equals engagement and psychological ownership. Engaged employees who feel that they have a stake in how well they do their work are productive.
Happy employees are productive employees.
Here’s what your organization can do to facilitate employee engagement by addressing the causes of mental health issues:
- Treat your employees equally. Distribute the work burden and the praise equitably.
- Establish a system that allows your employees to seek counseling or therapy, should they feel that they need it.
- Recognize the symptoms of exhaustion and mental health lapses. Make sure to give your employees enough time off, so they can avoid burnout.
- Offer fair pay for the work your employees deliver.
- Be empathetic and try to understand the challenges your workforce faces.
- Encourage teamwork and bonding within your organization by arranging and supporting team-building activities.
- Try to ensure that your employees have access to quality mental health care. According to the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, 42 percent of employees across the nation can’t afford to get mental healthcare.
- Remove the social stigma mental health issues still seem to carry.
Being aware of the impact of mental health problems in your workforce and addressing these problems at the source or further down the line will set up your organization to succeed. It will also allow your employees to fulfill their potential and assume psychological ownership of your organization’s purpose and values.