20 Oct

5 ways to improve mental health in the workplace

A couple of weeks ago I attended a Leadership seminar and one of the speakers was Jimi Hunt. Besides being responsible for constructing the worlds biggest water slide, sailing a lilo down the Waikato and simply enjoying doing random stuff, he is also an advocate of increasing mental health awareness.

What does mental health mean, why did it get my attention and why would it have such relevance within the business world? According to the World Health Organisation,  “Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

Looking at the world today, it is obsessed with physical health and wellness. Being fit, looking good and eating well. People have become far more open with admitting they are “unfit” or “eat badly” and on the receiving side people are more forgiving if they hear someone admit their unhealthy physical lifestyle status. This type of compassion and understanding displayed for physical health issues is not at the same level as that exhibited for mental health issues. Therefore, people don’t readily admit they are battling mentally, for fear of being told they are lazy, that they can’t handle the pressure or being alienated by their colleagues.  Therefore most people will rather remain silent, resign, become a disrupter or a disengaged employee, rather than admit to having mental health issues.

So think about your own mental health and then take a look at the people around you. How open and honest are you or the people that you work with about your own personal mental health and wellness?

What do your employee turnover figures and absenteeism statistics look like?

When your team members are at work how productive are they? Are they reaching their weekly and monthly targets and goals or do you have a case of presenteeism in your business? Your team are physically there, but not mentally focused and productive. Like a team of rowers without any oars. Completely useless.

To help with improving your team’s mental health, think about implementing the following into your business:

  1. One-on-one coaching initiatives
    • This allows for specific, measurable, realistic and attainable goals to be set and delivered at an agreed upon deadline.
    • The team member is then in control of their own goals and work flow
    • coaching provides a non-judgemental space for the team member to share their concerns and to then create and work through an action plan to improve their situation. By just allowing the team members to have a place to share, bounce off ideas and to “think” out loud will greatly assist in improving their mental health and well being.
  2. Creating  an “it’s okay to take a break” culture. Encourage your team to take their lunch breaks away from their work, to engage in mindfulness practises or any other relaxing and energy rejuvenating activity.
  3. Can you business allow for flexitime? In todays world this type of arrangement would positively assist the drive for attaining work/life balance.
  4. Improve communication within the workplace. Work off one strategic plan, one set of goals and one set of values. If everyone is singing off the same hymn sheet it dramatically lowers confusion amongst your team members, eliminates mixed messages and lowers frustration and anxiety levels.
  5. Understand that you have human beings in your business. They are not robots. Your team members have dreams, aspirations and feelings. Get to know them, learn to listen to them. Show your appreciation towards them and aim to build a strong corporate culture where mental health awareness is as important as the company athletics day.

Want to engage an external coach to work with your team. Contact me nicole@tikumu.co.nz for assistance.