There used to be a real social stigma associated with mental health challenges. Fortunately, mental health awareness has increased significantly over the last decade. These days, people are much more aware of the importance of mental health and how mental health issues can affect everyone. This is especially true in the workplace, where even normal workday stress can lead to or exacerbate certain mental conditions, such as anxiety and depression.
As such, it’s critical that you promote a healthy workplace and help employees who may be struggling with their mental health.
Ways Mental Health Can Affect Employee Performance
The following are a few ways that poor mental health can affect the job performance of your employees:
- Reduced cognitive performance: Employees that are struggling with mental health problems will have trouble when it comes to performing cognitive tasks, which can also affect their decision-making. The CDC estimates that depression can reduce cognitive performance by 35 percent.
- Reduced physical performance: Depression also affects the ability of employees to do physical tasks. They become less motivated, which slows them down. The CDC says that depression can reduce physical performance by 20 percent.
- Less engagement with coworkers: An employee that’s stressed or depressed is less likely to communicate effectively with their coworkers. This can lead to miscommunication issues amongst team members, which could potentially hurt the productivity of others. It can also lead to poorer relationships between coworkers, which can hurt the overall morale in the work environment.
- Increased absenteeism: Employees struggling with mental health are not only going to be less productive, they’re likely going to miss more days of work. A study performed by Aetna revealed that almost 32 percent of those interviewed took sick days due to stress.
How You Can Improve Employee Well-Being In The Workplace
Now that you know more about how mental health can affect employee performance, it’s important to learn what you can do to improve the situation. If you can implement some or all of the following strategies, you’ll be well on your way to creating a healthy workplace environment where employees can thrive.
- Create a stress-free environment: There are several ways you can improve workplace mental health by creating a stress-free environment. First of all, use positive reinforcement to motivate your employees. If they make a mistake, don’t yell at them. Don’t embarrass employees in front of their colleagues. If you need to speak about their performance, do so in private. Otherwise, you’ll not only stress them out, but you’ll also stress everyone else out as well.
- Reward your employees: You can help raise the spirits of your employees by rewarding employees regularly for the good work they do. This shows them that you pay attention to them and that what they do makes a difference.
- Promote mental health awareness: Broach the subject of employee mental health and encourage your employees to ask for help if they need it. Employees may be hesitant to talk about their mental health challenges, but it’s essential that they feel comfortable doing so. Be sure to discuss your company’s mental health policies and to make your employees aware of the mental health resources that are available to them.
- Provide mental health and well-being resources.: Set up wellness programs within the company, such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Doing so gives your employees the ability to discuss their mental health challenges with someone. You could even put up digital signage instructing employees on how to take advantage of the mental health programs available at work if they feel uncomfortable going to upper management for help.
- Offer better mental health care coverage: Look for health insurance providers that offer good mental health benefits. By giving employees better access to mental health care coverage, they’ll be able to address mental health issues proactively without having to worry about the cost of doing so. Offering such employee benefits can also help you attract more prospective employees in the future.
- Provide mental health days: Offer mental health support by allowing your employees to take a day off from work for mental health reasons. This will allow them to recharge and focus on their mental health without worrying about losing pay. You should also consider giving everyone a mental health day once in a while, especially if your employees have been overworked. Burnout is a significant stressor you’ll want to avoid.
Emphasize the Importance of Mental Health in Your Workplace
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) estimated that around 21 percent of all adults in the U.S. experienced some form of mental illness in 2020. As such, it should be no surprise that the mental health of your employees can affect their motivation, productivity, their quality of work, and even their presence.
Mental health is just as important as physical health, which is why it’s crucial that you do everything you can to promote healthy minds in the workplace.
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