Mental Health and Company Culture
Today, most adults spend around a third of their lives in the workplace. Even though remote working has become more common, having a full-time job can, inevitably, shape mental health habits and these, in turn, can hinder or help performance.
Business owners and employers have a key role to play in helping their staff to have healthy mental and physical health habits. Company culture can be an extremely powerful tool when it comes to encouraging healthy employee habits, and for this reason, many businesses have leveraged their company culture to help their employees eat better and be more active. Not only that, but increasingly, businesses are looking for ways of cost-efficiently and successfully promoting better mental health within the workplace through the creation of a working environment which values good mental health and which provides support with no stigma involved.
There are numerous inexpensive and simple measures which can be put in place to aid good mental health in the workplace. Building networks for peer support with colleagues, or starting dialogue amongst managers which encourages healthier behavior can help considerable when it comes to boosting mental health at work.
It needn’t be costly to create a company culture which values positive mental health. For example, by simply making efforts to remove negative stigma surrounding mental health issues and putting positive affirmations in place instead can improve employee health and the workplace environment significantly.
The Importance Of All Employees In Promoting Good Mental Health Habits
While senior management do have an influential and important role to play in promoting good mental health at work, every employee at all levels of the company have an impact on the approach taken to mental health in the work environment. If support efforts are going to be successful, they must reach all employees and educate them effectively. They must also be fully incorporated into the environment on a daily basis. By taking an inclusive approach, combatting negative stigma can be truly ingrained, fostering a wider awareness amongst employees that good mental health is important, even if they personally aren’t dealing with a problem of their own.
Both employees and managers together hold accountability for the creation and maintenance of a culture which values good mental health. If the leadership team are happy to engage employees in the development of mental health programs, it’s possible for them to open up conversations which are thoughtful and which resonate with the company’s unique employee population. In turn, staff members must also acknowledge that they have their own responsibility to participate actively in such a conversation both for the good of the organization and their own well-being.
The Problems of A Negative Company Culture
The problems that arise from a negative company culture can be severe and widespread. When the working environment is disrespectful and aggressive, employees can suffer from stress, anxiety and depression. Eventually, they can develop a full blown mental illness that causes them to have to take excessive sick days and even to leave the job permanently. So, how do you recognize a workplace with a negative culture? There are a number of factors which can contribute to this kind of unpleasant environment, but some of the most common include:
- Disorganized rota patterns which impact on workers’ social lives
- A culture of mocking weakness
- Setting deadlines which employees can never achieve
- Management failing to listen to staff or take them seriously
- A culture of gossiping behind each other’s backs
- A clear division between management and employees
It’s easy to see how this kind of company culture can cause deep-seated problems throughout every level of the organization.
What Are The Mental Health Effects of A Negative Culture?
When a workplace has a toxic culture, staff find that their mental health can suffer greatly. Workers may find that they:
- Become irritable and angry both at work and at home, impacting on personal relationships
- Develop sleeping difficulties leading to physical medical problems
- Experience social isolation, feeling unsupported and misunderstood
- Lack self-confidence and self-esteem, feeling incapable of performing at a high enough standard
Clearly, workers who feel this way cannot maximize their potential at work or at home, or cope with anything that life throws at them. They cannot even play a full part in their personal and professional relationships. They begin to take time away from the workplace to try to recover and get back to normal. Not only is this bad for the individual themselves who may miss out on earnings or may even lose their job, but it’s also bad for the company since their productivity and profits drop and staff turnover increases. This is why today’s businesses are beginning to work harder to recognize issues before they get out of hand and to find ways of putting them right at an earlier stage. One of the most important things any company can do is to foster a supportive and positive company culture, so how can this be achieved?
One of the simplest things that any business can put in place to breed a positive company culture is to put measures in place to support colleagues who are going through a difficult time for any reason. It’s often daunting to talk about mental health, however, when an authentic and warm environment is provided in which workers can discuss their issues and know that they will be listened to and understood, it’s possible to encourage a more open dialogue.
Of course, it’s important to find the right place and time to offer this listening service. The person who is struggling must feel comfortable and able to take their time to express themselves fully. Peace and quiet may also be beneficial to those who need to get their issues off their chest. The most important thing is that the person who is listening devotes their entire attention to the individual that they’re reaching out to, and therefore, there must be minimal disruptions such as notifications or phones ringing.
Active listening is very important in this context. The person who is listening must be engaged and present in the conversation, making eye contact with the individual and having open body language that encourages further sharing. Acknowledging what has been said is vital, with appropriate gestures, nods and repetition when necessary. Direct questions should also be asked if it’s appropriate to show that the listener is keen to gain a full understanding of the situation. Once the conversation is over, there should be some useful information ready to give to the individual who is struggling. Helpline numbers or web addresses can be passed on at this point as a next step towards getting further help.
A Day To Day Atmosphere Of Support And Care
Lots of people who are struggling with mental health issues in the workplace keep their problems hidden from their colleagues until they finally reach a point where they can no longer cope. Keeping an eye on fellow workers and staff members is therefore important on an everyday basis to spot any possible signs of a brewing problem. How can this be achieved?
Checking in informally with colleagues on a regular basis to see how they’re getting on is easy to accomplish and can make a big difference. Offering others in the workplace a regular chance to discuss any issues they may have allows staff to feel as if they are valued and that their company cares about their overall well-being. It’s a small thing and costs nothing, but it can make an enormous difference to the way that employees feel in their working environment and the comfort they experience in opening up about any problems they may be having.
Line managers have particular responsibilities in this respect. They have a crucial part to play in supporting their staff, and especially those who have mental health issues. As the first line of official contact between the individual and the business, line managers can not only set the tone but also set a good example of how to take the right attitude towards mental health problems.
An Employer’s Guide To Creating Workplaces With A Positive Company Culture For Good Mental Health
It’s important for employers in all industries to recognize that mental well-being and health are key assets of their organization. Mental health issues are an increasing problem in the modern world, and with around a quarter of people suffering from a mental health problem at some point in their lifetime, it’s clear that employers in every sector will inevitably have to cope with staff who are struggling from time to time. Putting in place a good company culture and a positive approach towards tackling mental well-being issues head-on is imperative if companies are to retain staff in the long-term, and to ensure maximum productivity for their business.
In order to do this, companies need to commit themselves to developing an attitude towards workplace mental health which improves and protects mental well-being for everyone, while also offering support for anyone going through distress. Middle managers and senior leaders must be prepared to take a responsible role in implementing programs to champion good mental health in the working environment.
- Business leaders must review how they do business in order to ensure that everyday workplace culture is mentally healthy, making tools such as mindfulness practice, counseling, and meditation available to staff at all levels.
- Taking staff surveys on a regular basis to build up data about workers’ mental health will help employers to plan appropriate workplace policies and to them put them into action.
- Effective and compassionate line management relationships must be developed, and this must be strongly supported from the top downwards.
- Opportunities should be provided for managers and supervisors to attend appropriate training so that they can offer staff the right support to cope with their mental health issues.
- Proactive support should be provided for all staff who are working alongside those who are suffering from mental health issues so that they know how best to approach the situation and how to handle their colleagues’ needs.
- Workplaces must begin to recognize that managers with personal experience of suffering mental health issues can be viewed as a company asset and not as a problem, embarrassment or failure.
- Discrimination of those who suffer from mental health problems must be outlawed without exception. All workers at every level of the company must be made aware that discriminating against those suffering from depression, anxiety, stress or any other mental issue is just as inappropriate as discriminating against someone because of their sexual orientation, race or gender. Any incidences of harassment or discrimination due to mental health status should be reported, either by the victim or by other witnesses to the event.
- Local and national initiatives to raise awareness of mental health problems and to break down the stigma associated with them should be supported in the workplace and highlighted whenever they occur.
- Employers must begin to value the transferable skills and diversity that those who are living with mental health issues can bring to their organization and support the disclosure of any problems that workers are going through. Mental health should be included in workplace inclusion and diversity strategies and mental health components within wider equality workplace initiatives should be recognized. Businesses should, whenever possible, try to create opportunities to join with employability providers to that those who suffer from mental health issues can join the workforce and receive the support they require.
- Business leaders should explore the possibilities of setting up mentoring and peer support programs for staff who are going through a mental health problem or who are at risk of developing issues.
There should, above all else, be a company culture in place which gives individuals positive reasons to admit to their mental health problems. When sufferers know that they are working for a business which values openness and authenticity, they can feel free to admit to their issues and know that they will be listened to, understood, and offered the support and help they need to get well.
Don’t hesitate: if you think you may benefit from inpatient treatment in order to help you manage the stress from your job and the mental health issues it may cause, contact The Meadowglade today to see if we make a good fit.