Mental Health in the Workspace: 10 Ways Managers Can Support Employee Well-being

Oct 6

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The role of a manager should go beyond coordinating employees to optimize results for the company. Businesses are now starting to believe that managers should care about their direct reports on a personal level. The benefits outweigh the risks: it helps increase your bottom line due to improved productivity, and supporting your team could mean that you retain valued members.

But how can a manager support their employees? A key way is to focus more on mental health in the workplace. Providing services that boost their well-being creates a culture of openness and support. The good news is that there are several ways to achieve this.

1. Share Experiences

The pandemic has brought mental well-being to the forefront of everyone’s mind and more people can relate to the struggles of others. Nonetheless, employees will often feel much more comfortable talking about their mental health if it is their managers who start the conversation.

A popular way to open up about workplace mental wellness is to hold an informal session with your team. This is a great way to discuss challenges, how to deal with stress, and what team members can do every day to improve their self-care. It is recommended to hire a professional to provide the service, both to host the session and to have a trained facilitator on-hand if difficult topics arise.

Budget: On average, a 30-minute self-care session will cost $500 per team.

Book a self-care team challenge for your remote team to help everyone put their mental health first.

2. Recognize and Prevent Employee Burnout

Mental health is as important as physical health. You can make sure employees know this by offering them a chance to take a mental health day off from work when they need it.

Person climbing a hill

Of course, it’s also important to minimize the number of days employees need to take time off. One way to do this is to support staff to avoid burnout by teaching them coping strategies.

Budget: A one-hour session to teach employees to avoid burnout will cost around $1,500 per team.

Schedule a virtual burnout workshop that helps you and your employees notice, understand and respond when they are veering towards burnout by using personalized strategies.

3. Help Employees Cope with Anxiety

Anxiety and depression are another major source of lost productivity. In fact, they cost the global economy $1 trillion a year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Although it’s impossible to prevent these issues entirely, you can take steps to improve staff well-being. For instance, simple breathing exercises can have a profound effect on anxiety.

Budget: Typically, a 30-minute breathing session will cost around $15 per person.

Energize your employees with guided visualization and breathing exercises that they can do no matter where they’re based.

4. Hold Group Fitness Classes

Rather than just saying that you care about the health and well-being of your employees, it’s crucial that managers show their support. There are several ways to do this, but some of the best ideas are group activities. A virtual fitness class is something all your team members can participate in wherever they are.

Two people working out on a yoga mat

Exercise doesn’t just have benefits for physical health; it’s also crucial for managing mental health in the workplace, especially if many of your employees spend much of the day sitting. This is because staying seated all day puts a strain on the body, leading to exhaustion and stress, which have a knock-on effect on mental well-being. Exercise can undo some of these negative effects by removing tension in the body, increasing energy levels, and releasing endorphins – chemicals that make you feel more positive.

Budget: Fitness classes range from about $6 to $15 per person for a 30- to 40-minute class.

Choose mat yoga if you want a low-intensity workout or dance cardio for high intensity. Either are suitable for remote, hybrid, and in-office teams and require no more equipment than a mat.

5. Meditate Together

Did you know that 20% of adults in the U.S. suffer from mental illness each year and the majority never seek help? Another way to combine mental health and leadership in a group activity is with regular meditation classes. The great thing about this option is that none of your employees need to mention that they’re struggling with mental health at work – the opportunity is open to and for everyone.

Budget: A typical 30-minute meditation class will cost around $6 per person.

Teach your team mindfulness through meditation classes that they can take remotely.

6. Promote Safety in the Workplace

We are living through stressful times – both asking people to stay at home (therefore reducing social connections) as well as asking employees to return to the office can have an impact on employee mental health. If you are returning to the office, many of your team members may be feeling stressed or anxious about being safe.

Person sanitizing hands with a gel sanitizer

You can give employees peace of mind by providing regular COVID-19 testing. Rapid tests only take  15 minutes, meaning you can immediately send home anyone who tests positive and prevent an outbreak at work. Such a system is also ideal for a hybrid work environment — for instance, you can screen employees before they come in.

Budget: A package of tests will cost around $500.

Purchase a package of rapid antigen tests for your office (with the option of a mobile healthcare team to administer the tests) or to send to hybrid workers to use before they come into the office.

7. Encourage Employees to Eat a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is linked to a healthy mind. Whereas it may often be tempting to eat sweet, salty, or fatty snacks — particularly when you’re stressed or anxious — this will ultimately just make you feel worse.

Offering more nutritious food at the workplace is a good start, but you still need to ensure workers choose these options. Plus, healthy food at the office will only help employees when they’re at work. For this reason, a better solution is to teach employees about how important a healthy diet is. Most of us know the basics of nutrition, but few people are aware of how connected to the mind.

Budget: A 40-minute virtual workshop will cost about $500 for a whole team.

Learn how the brain and gut are connected with a virtual workshop on how food affects your mood.

8. Prevent Injuries

Normally, we associate injuries with manual labor, but around 1.8 million workers suffer from musculoskeletal disorders due to sitting at a desk and using a computer. Aches and pains like stiffness in the neck and shoulders, discomfort in the lower back, and repetitive strain injuries all impact workplace mental health by making it more difficult to concentrate and stay productive.

A person participating in online stretching class in front of their laptop

You can reduce injuries and promote better mental health for employees by improving your team’s understanding of ergonomics. Many companies with remote teams are choosing to provide their employees with seminars that cover essentials like how to design a workstation and maintain proper posture.

Budget: You’ll pay around $240 for your team to attend an ergonomics seminar.

Attend a virtual ergonomics and posture seminar with a professional physiotherapist.

9. Start a Wellness Program

Traditional workplace benefits like paid vacation time and health insurance do contribute to better mental wellness in the workplace, but some companies are going beyond this by offering wellness programs. A holistic program can offer things like exercise sessions, meditation, health tips, and interactive workshops.

Budget: Expect to pay around $6,800 for a team of up to 100 people for a six-week or three-month wellness program.

Sign up for a holistic corporate wellness program that your remote or hybrid team will enjoy.

10. Take Time to Have Fun

The last thing you want is for workplace culture to become too serious. The problem is that creating a positive workspace has always involved some degree of socialization as a team — something that is much more difficult during this time of remote working. Holding unstructured Zoom calls just to chat has become boring, but fun activities never lose their appeal. There are always new interactive sessions you can try, perhaps on a regular cadence to reward your team for all their hard work.

Budget: An interactive session such as a 45-minute virtual mocktail class will cost around $7 per person.

Join a healthy mocktails class to have fun and promote mental well-being while staying healthy.

Now that you have some ideas on how to support your team, it’s time to start implementing some of these workplace well-being initiatives. If budget restraints mean you’re only able to choose a few, focus on those that you feel would support your employees the most. Avoid making assumptions – instead, have an open conversation with your employees about what mental health initiatives they would like to see in the workplace. This will show your team members that you have their best interests in mind.

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