Following the horrific shooting of a TV journalist and cameraman on-air in Virginia last month, many employers and employees have started to think about mental health in the workplace. While the gunman did not have a documented mental illness, many think his mental state could have impacted this tragic outcome. While we cannot always prevent these events from happening, increasing mental health awareness in the workplace is a step in the right direction.
Did you know less than one-third of Americans are actually happy with their work, according to Mental Health America? What’s more: half of the work force is checked out! How can we change those numbers around? With mental health still being a taboo in our society, many people are afraid to discuss or share issues with an employer. What can we do to increase mental health awareness and overall satisfaction in the workplace? Here are a few ideas to get conversation going in your office:
1) Provide wellness opportunities to your employees
While some employers may not like the cost associated with this idea, offering a wellness or health benefit to employees could be worth some bang for the buck! Truven Health Analytics did a study in 2014, and found that for every $1 that Johnson & Johnson added to its employee wellness program, the company saved between $1.88 and $4 on healthcare costs. That’s a huge savings! That idea may not work for your company due to its size or budget, but you could implement free wellness practices, like mediation at lunch on Tuesdays or Yoga Thursdays. Small changes could go along way to increase the happiness of your employees!
2) Encourage short breaks on-the-job
This may seem counterintuitive, why offer breaks on the job if you want to increase productivity? Well, the happiest employees are the most dedicated and passionate, so offer yours some perks on-the-job! I used to work at a marketing agency where the benefits were endless: a Ping-Pong table in the conference room, free lunch gift cards, weekly happy hour gatherings, Olympic office competitions and more! Rewarding your employees for their work goes a long way. These ideas do not have to be super expensive, creating a game for the office could just require some work time or creative brainpower. You could even ask your employees if someone would like to start a company “fun club.”
3) Offer flexible scheduling to create a positive work/life balance
One of the most sought ever benefits is flexible scheduling. Can you afford to be flexible with your employees? If you can, it could pay off in a big way. Last week a study from FlexJobs shared over 76% of workers avoid their office for important tasks. Many employees find a shared workplace to be overwhelming and distracting. If you can learn to trust your employees with a flexible schedule, you’ll create a happier workplace and higher quality work. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic change, just allowing staff to work from home for 4 hours a week could benefit your company!
4) Send weekly emails to staff about mental health and workplace engagement
Did you know you could send free weekly emails focusing on mental health to your employees? Through Work Place Strategies for Mental Health, you can sign up for their free weekly newsletter, Working Through It at anytime. This free weekly email shares a video clip or tip about mental health and usually takes less than 5 minutes to read. You can sign up online here.
Any of these ideas can increase mental health awareness and happiness in your workplace. The main thing to think about is opening dialogue about mental health in the workplace. Don’t shy away from having these conversations in the office, as you can learn a lot about your employees from a discussion. There is no cookie-cutter solution, but learning more about your employees and their needs could help you make the most beneficial decisions to increase mental health and overall happiness in your workplace!