A business leader has to provide a workplace environment that looks after and demonstrates genuine care for the mental health of employees, as negligence can produce devastating ramifications, both for the individual experiencing a mental illness and their company.
According to a 2018 report from the Mental Health in the Workplace Summit, mental illness is the leading cause of disability for U.S. adults aged 15 to 44, accounting for more days of absenteeism than any other illness or injury, and one in five American adults face a mental health illness each year, only 43% of which receive treatment.
Effective leadership can and should modernize the company culture to ensure that all workers are living with a positive mental health.
James DuBose, the head of programming and executive producer for Fox Soul, outlines a few proven strategies that will aid the mental health of workplace personnel.
All leaders are advised to promote autonomy among their staff, James DuBose agrees, giving them a significant role in decision-making, respect with regards to their input and the freedom to operate creatively, independently. When a leader enables his or her team to work in such a fashion, it becomes more dedicated, engaged, and prolific. Rather than micromanaging them, trust the team members to identify an ideal method to attain a goal themselves. By empowering employees to essentially function as they see fit, within reason, a leader decreases the likelihood of depression and anxiety creeping in.
An overworked employee generally burns out over time, fatigued and distressed by the number of hours or volume, James DuBose states. Their employer can spare them this discomfort through an emphasis on flexibility, whether that involves switching their shifts, changing their hours or granting them permission to work from home. For example, the opportunity to work remotely gives one the luxury of skipping the commute and that newfound free time can be used to exercise, sleep longer, or share the company of their family. Not only will you secure and hang on to elite talent, but you will almost certainly see a massive return on your investment via their performance.
Leaders are encouraged to observe and invest in the welfare of their employees, James DuBose notes, as they will want to discover the desires and goals within each person. Such mindfulness, be it a corporate wellness assessment, stress management workshops, resilience training, or personal coaching, is bound to improve company morale because workers feel valued. Treat your personnel in a manner that highlights the crucial nature of positive mental health and serves to safeguard it, as a healthy body is capable of producing, adapting more to the occasion.
Despite the best efforts and intentions, sometimes the simplest path is the most meaningful one, James DuBose confirms. Make it a habit to check in on employees during breaks by calling, emailing, or dropping by their desk unannounced. Ask how their day is going, if they are experiencing any issues personally or professionally, and listen to them. A routine like this instills trust, transparency, and a support system, which will greatly benefit an individual’s mental health state.
Being honest about your own mental health issues, especially as a leader, will inspire employees to be equally comfortable in expressing their difficulties. Verbally supporting mental health is fine, but there is something to be said for the reverberation of witnessing someone in a position of power be vulnerable, willing to open up about specific struggles that are affecting their mental health. Be a model of consistency through your actions and show team members how essential it is to practice self-care and communicate any ongoing problems.