Written for EO by Angela White, an ed-tech consultant and contributor.
Despite options like remote work and virtual offices, adults will spend at least one-third of their lives working. And our workplace environment, culture and habits have a significant impact on our health—particularly our mental health—which, in turn, has a great effect on our productivity.
In fact, a study led by World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year in lost productivity. The organization further states that “Employers and managers who put in place workplace initiatives to promote mental health and to support employees who have mental disorders see gains not only in the health of their employees but also in their productivity at work.”
Smart employers, then, know that tending to their employees’ mental wellbeing will support the organization’s overall success.
The Top Signs of Mental Health Issues at Work
The first step in tackling mental wellbeing issues is to recognize how depression and anxiety manifest themselves in the workplace. Look out for these signs in your organization:
- Employees who often call in sick
- Employees who are withdrawn or isolated
- Employees who show a distinct transformation in their personality
- Employees who have difficulty concentrating, completing tasks or recalling information
Risk Factors That Affect Mental Health in the Workplace
There are several factors that increase your employees’ risk of developing mental health problems. The most common aggravators include:
- Inflexible working hours
- Risk of physical injury or harm
- Lack of transparency regarding business goals and success
- Employees’ perception of available support
- Poor communication and management practices
- Restricted decision making or limited control over their work
- Inadequate health and safety policies
While you may be able to spot the signs of trouble, how do you confirm or quantify your instincts? Furthermore, how do you track the success of any initiatives you put in place to improve workplace mental health?
Employee net promoter score (NPS) software is a useful tool for gathering measurable data about your team’s experience. Through most survey software tools, you can even design surveys geared to each department in your organization.
NPS survey software works best if you are looking to collect employee feedback on specific aspects of your organization.
Steps to Improve Mental Wellbeing In Your Organization
- Recognize the signs. Look for the symptoms of depression, anxiety, burnout and stress.
- Stay organized. Encourage managers and employees to lean on organization tools, including shared to-do list apps, regular project meetings as well as project management software. Be sure staff members know what to prioritize in their work.
- Share key business goals, which can help your team feel part of a bigger picture and also guide their prioritization efforts.
- Set standards. Make it clear that workplace gossip or bullying are no-nos.
- Track time. Help your team set realistic goals for productivity by tracking how long it takes to accomplish key tasks. Then plan your resources and staffing accordingly.
- Schedule breaks. Encourage employees to enjoy their lunch break, go for a walk and use their vacation time. Work with your leadership team to organize out-of-office bonding opportunities.
- Outfit your office with health in mind. Is there a break room or kitchen? Do employees have access to plenty of drinking water? Is it clear of clutter and safety hazards?
Taking these first steps is critical. To ensure that mental health remains a priority, start an ongoing conversation with your leadership and staff, as you continue tracking employee happiness using survey software.
Angela White is an ed-tech enthusiast with a passion for product research and marketing.