5 Ways How Startup Leaders Can Support Employees Mental Health?

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Mental health is something people don’t talk much about, but more than half the population in the world is in depression, and they don’t take it seriously. Even when it comes to office employees or workers, every leader needs to take care of their staff to boost their productivity– for that, every employee should be mentally fit and active. But it’s not easy at all when it comes to implementing in the workplace.

Stress, burning the midnight oil, exhaustion, breakdown, burnout—these are phrases often heard and just as often disregarded in the workplace. Unfortunately, many businesses fail to address the mental health of their employees. Amidst the constant requests, emails, meetings, and deadlines, it can be challenging for employees to prioritize their well-being.

Behind every successful business, there are three factors or 3Ps: People, Purpose, and Passion. What happens when people are not satisfied? What does this mean for you as a leader, and how does it affect your business? And how do you promote a positive work culture? With these questions in mind, let’s take a look at the further information below.

How does poor mental health affect a company?

  • Satisfied employees are the foundation of any successful organization; your retaining rate matters. When employees are stressed, they won’t focus on their work or look for more desirable opportunities. The American Institute of Stress study revealed that 19 percent (nearly one in five) of employees quit their jobs due to stress and tension.
  • If you’re understaffed, it puts tremendous pressure on your employees. However, a qualified and talented workforce can minimize the stress, but understaffed might hurt you later. It might also affect the quality of work, and forcing employees to complete the task in a limited time with limited resources could pressure them and lead to stress.
  • Antagonistic interactions between employees can quickly turn into insubordination. This can jeopardize the welfare of everyone involved.

According to a recent UK survey, 30percent of employees do not speak openly to management about feeling stressed. It is the responsibility of the companies to remove this barrier. Otherwise, it can lead to destruction in your business.

Five ways you can support your Employees’ Mental Health.

  1. First, learn about mental health issues.

  2. Observe employee performance.

  3. Normalize conversations around mental health.

  4. Practice what you preach.

  5. Invest in mental health.

Let’s get into the details.

  1. First, learn about mental health issues.

You don’t need to be a psychiatrist or psychologist to learn about mental health. As the main cause of long-term sickness absence in one in five companies, mental health issues affect us all – we just need to get better at learning about them. This starts with training yourself and your staff on mental health and stress management. Since disorders like anxiety and depression are prevalent, everyone must know how to spot early warning signs and manage stress.

Some warning signs are more evident than others, and the quality of workplace relationships can make the difference between proactive and reactive support. Build a trusting, friendly culture and try to get to know your employees on a personal level. With this, you’ll be able to spot or figure any changes in their behavior, temperament, and – perhaps more importantly – colleagues will be more likely to volunteer what they’re going through.

  1. Observe employee performance.

When an employee works great, you compliment him/her, but if you find that the same employee’s work performance goes down, don’t put him under pressure. Instead of getting angry, ask him if everything is good in his/her personal life? Monitor that employee’s behavior and the way they talk. Watching out for changes in employee performance can help you offer proactive support to anyone who might be struggling. This doesn’t have to be intrusive– consent-based performance tracking apps can automatically capture and share this information for you. In actuality, you’ll want to keep an eye on:

1-   Hours and overtime – is anyone continually staying late or working overtime without any prior notice? It may be a sign they are struggling to focus, or conversely, that they are too engaged and headed for mental exhaustion. Any upset in a healthy work-life balance should sound an alarm.

2-   Workload – are any of your employees working beyond their target timeline? Do they have an ample amount of tasks? Are they working on the weekend also? If this is the case, then you should take the situation under control.

3-  Productivity – is anyone making unexpected errors or spending longer than usual on their tasks?

4-  Absence  – a lot of employees call in physically sick because they feel they can’t ask for time off to manage their mental health. Monitor absenteeism patterns and adopt a supportive policy of mental health sick days to support mental health management.

  1. Normalize conversations around mental health.

Leadership can make or break a company’s approach to mental health and can also directly impact the occurrence of mental health problems. Research shows that the absence of managerial support is one of the most commonly cited factors in employee stress and depression. It makes psychological safety at work virtually impossible, making it unlikely that employees will ask for help.

You need to build a safe, non-judgment culture in the office space where people can speak and express openly about mental health and actively ask for support if required. As a manager, that requires you to be approachable, supportive, and able to normalize and handle the conversations about mental health. There are other ways you can create space for people to discuss, raise issues and ask questions about mental health. These can include:

  •         Regular personal meetings
  •         Staff forums and surveys
  •         Monthly performance review meetings
  •         Problem-solving events
  •         Facilitation workshops
  •         Setting up internal channels – like Slack groups
  1. Practice what you preach.

The positivity of leadership plays an important role in employee behavior. No matter how good policies you promote, your employees won’t feel permitted to do so either if you’re not acting on them yourself. One of the easiest ways to send the message to your team that their well-being matters is to lead by example.

Promote a good work/life balance by switching off at the end of the day; tell them not to take any office work pressure once they reach home. Instead, give them a room between office and personal space but at the same time tell them if they need to say anything urgent feel free to contact you at any time.

If you take mental health sick days, accept the fact you’re doing this to normalize your well-being. In addition, by seeing you, many other employees will be in their comfort zone, and they will start to value the office workspace because they know that mental health is prioritized in this company.

  1. Invest in mental health.

Investing in employees’ mental health is just as important as any insurance policy. The WHO has found that for every dollar put into treatment for common mental health disorders, there’s an ROI of four dollars in improved health and productivity.

If any employee requires mental health guidance, you can appoint a psychologist for a few sessions; always remember, your employees are your assets; if they fall sick, you can not grow your company alone. So never ignore investment in mental health; try to invest in mental health whenever required.

We also understand the benefits exercise has to offer in terms of mental health. So at Unboxing Startups, we always encourage employees to have some exercise and yoga sessions daily.

Every leader has to understand the employee’s mindset; if they find something unusual or a sudden performance drop, then this is when you need to set the example and support your employee. Firing or arguing is not the solution; as leaders, they need your support, so you should mentally support your employee in the most crucial situations.

Wrapping up

Your team’s performance is a reflection of your success as a leader. So spend time every week to check in with your team. A simple, earnest “How are you?” is more powerful than you think. Or show your concern that ‘I think about you and you are my asset.’ These small gestures can do magic, and trust us, this information mentioned above will help you in the long term.

Let’s keep up the spirit in every organization.

Also Read: How COVID-19 will Shape the Future of the Healthcare Industry?


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