While mental health might not be discussed as much as physical health in the workplace, it can significantly impact the overall safety and well-being of your employees. Research shows that workplace stress accounts for approximately 120,000 deaths and $190 billion in healthcare costs every year. As mental health-related issues arise, employers must create a more positive work environment to keep their team moving forward.
By prioritizing mental health in your small business, you can help your employees better manage their work-related anxiety and stress. This will help you boost employee retention rates and productivity, avoid burnout, and reduce employee absenteeism.
While small businesses might not have the same resources to offer luxurious and extensive mental health perks to their employees as large-scale businesses do, there are many ways a small business can support their employees’ mental health at work. After all, if you want your growing business and your team to thrive, supporting their mental health is a given.
If you own a small business and want to prioritize mental health in your workplace, you’re in luck. Here are six tips on ensuring mental health in your small business.
Arrange Wellness Sessions
Creating a safe space where employees can have an open dialogue about mental health is extremely important. In addition, you can support your employees’ wellness by organizing appropriate awareness sessions that will educate your employees and offer them the resources they need if they’re suffering from mental health-related issues.
You can also ask a mental health expert to come and offer advice to your employees. This can be in a large group session or in one-on-one meetings with the individual employees.
Additionally, you can also arrange weekly mindfulness sessions and mental health breaks to help your employees recharge together before getting back to their tasks. These sessions can be as simple as taking a walk outside or having lunch together to help your employees bring their minds off any work-related stress.
Offer Generous or Unlimited Paid Time Off
Offering your employees unlimited or a generous amount of paid time off can allow them to feel at ease when they need to take a day off for their mental health. Employees are much more hesitant about taking a day off for better mental health than taking a day off for their physical health.
Being generous with paid leaves to create a conducive work environment that supports your employees’ mental health is extremely important. In addition, it fosters a culture where the employees feel safe and are not anxious about running out of available sick days.
Several companies, including many small start-ups, have started to embrace the idea of unlimited paid time off (PTO), where there isn’t a limit to the number of sick days you have. Instead, the employer and employee work together to decide when the employee can take a day off.
However, with an unlimited PTO policy, you must make sure that your employees are not using it as a way to slack off from work. Ultimately, the key to a successful unlimited PTO policy is trust and a change in mindset about paid absences. Your end goal should be to reduce employee absenteeism rather than escalate it.
Set Clear Work-Life Boundaries
It is very important to set clear and defined work-life boundaries for yourself and your employees. Don’t expect your employees to work on weekends or after regular work hours. Make it a point not to send any work emails after work hours. Employees should not be expected to work full-time for you. Even if they’re working remotely, it is important to respect their boundaries and not assign them to work during their offline hours.
Implement a Flexible Working Model
Implementing a flexible working model is the cornerstone of promoting employee productivity and wellness. You want to make work for your employees as easy as possible. This means setting reasonable deadlines, flexible work hours, and having attainable expectations.
Give your employees the freedom to work in their way. Constantly monitoring the work that they’re doing will only contribute to their poor mental health. If you delegate work to them, don’t give them an order. Instead, ask them if they have the time and energy to do the job.
Giving your employees the ease and flexibility of creating their schedules will make them feel empowered and improve their performance since they’ll be able to choose when they work best. Also, monitor your team’s working habits to ensure that they are not working late at night for too long.
Working late hours can harm your employees’ mental health and compromise the quality of work they provide. Reach out to them if you feel that they are working way too hard and look for ways you can support them.
Be Open about Mental Health
One of the biggest problems in supporting mental health in the workplace is the stigma surrounding the subject. Many small business owners do not feel comfortable or encourage talking openly about this topic, which is why their employees don’t feel comfortable sharing their problems with those who can help them until it’s too late.
Having an open dialogue about mental health issues in the workplace will empower your team members with the confidence they need to seek help. In addition, when employees see their colleagues talking about their mental health issues, it makes them feel less alone and alienated.
If you want to prioritize mental health in your small business, start by talking about it. Lead by example and talk about your own experiences with mental illnesses. Educate your team members about common mental health issues and how to support someone struggling with them.
Conduct Anonymous Surveys
Even if you’ve created a work environment that fosters trust, employees may not feel comfortable sharing their problems with you. Conducting an anonymous survey of your entire team will give employees who are uncomfortable the confidence to answer the survey honestly. This way, you can gain valuable feedback from your team and better understand how you can improve your work processes.
If you want your small business to grow, you need a team that is committed and has the resources to work to the best of its capabilities. Supporting your employees’ mental health is at the crux of your business success. Now that you know how to prioritize mental health in your workplace, you can support yourself and your team to do their best and give their best to the business.
Goh, J., Pfeffer, J., & Zenios, S. A. (2016). The Relationship Between Workplace Stressors and Mortality and Health Costs in the United States. Management Science, 62(2), 608–628. http://www.jstor.org/stable/43835025