Four tips to improve mental health in the workplace

We talk to an HR professional about factors influencing the mental health of employees and how to address them

Four tips to improve mental health in the workplace

There are a number of factors in the workplace which impact the mental health of employees, according to Bindy Edelman, diversity & inclusion manager at Xero.

Firstly, managing workloads, demanding deadlines and targets can take its toll, Edelman told HRD.

“The link to that is the impact of the 24/7 work culture which of course leads to extended work hours,” said Edelman.

“While technology gives us easy access to do incredible things, on the downside people feel it’s hard to disconnect which I think is adding to stress and work overload.”

Edelman said that unclear roles and responsibilities can also contribute to stress.

“This might include employees not really knowing how to perform their role effectively or what their role really means in terms of success for the business,” she said.

“I think that some roles can be highly emotional and if that is not addressed in the workplace that can be a real problem.”

Then there’s the unacceptable behaviours like bullying, harassment and discrimination.

“If they go unchecked or unaddressed at work they can be really impactful," she said.

"And from talking more and more to people I am hearing about this general imbalance between managing work and life priorities.

“It’s about finding time for the personal responsibilities outside work, whether it’s parental responsibilities or whatever it might be that can be a challenge to mental health wellbeing.”

So what’s Edelman’s advice to protect the mental health of employees?

Knowledge: We need to increase knowledge about mental health in the workplace so employees have a clear understanding about what they can do if they are struggling and who they can get help from. Training managers so they can understand how to identify concerning behaviours and what they can also do to help an employee if they are concerned about what they are seeing.

Support: Encouraging workplace access to things like EAP and other external resources and supporting anyone who is struggling with mental health. And if there are factors at work contributing to that like bullying and harassment it is important that these are addressed effectively and employees understand the internal processes they can access to get help and make complaints.

Beginning a conversation: I think that through internal storytelling you can encourage people to talk openly about mental health. It is really about discussing the impact of mental health and their own personal experiences without judgement. And I think that gets back to this notion from an inclusion perspective about creating an environment where people can bring their whole selves to work and that they feel respected for doing that.

Improving overall wellbeing: It’s important to think about what measures you are putting in place to actually help employees through not just serious stuff but the things that can just contribute and add to stress over time. It might be things like yoga or mindfulness or walking meetings, and I think also looking at how you can promote flexible work practices to really support employers who might be needing that or who might benefit from different ways of working.


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