5 Ways Companies Can Support Employee Mental Health

by Sarah Kotysch

Mental health is becoming an increasingly important topic in the workplace. However, times of uncertainty often trigger anxiety and put additional pressure on employees. According to a study by Indeed and occupational psychologist Prof. Dr. Hannes Zacher from University of Leipzig, 35% of professionals say they’ve experienced more pressure at work since the pandemic began. To counteract this, companies should take proactive steps to provide their employees with resources that boost mental resilience and physical health. Below, we share 5 tips on how you can improve mental health in the workplace and employee well-being simultaneously.

1. Encourage dialogue about mental health in the workplace

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Although most companies are aware of the relevance of mental health in the workplace, many office environments lack appropriate initiatives. Indeed’s study revealed that 63% of respondents said their workplace offered no initiatives to support mental health. Yet even small measures significantly reduce stress.

Don’t make mental health a taboo subject

Speak about mental health openly in the workplace to avoid making it a taboo subject. This way your employees will know they can approach their supervisors without being judged and can trust their HR team to support them. 

Offer employees virtual therapy

Support your team’s mental health by offering anonymous virtual therapy. Some employees find it difficult to speak to colleagues about their problems, but with virtual therapy sessions employees can talk to experts and get the support they need.

Offer seminars on stress management and resilience

To prevent mental stress, offer seminars or workshops on stress management. This way, employees will know when to slow down and address their workload before they reach their limits.

2. Promote teamwork 

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During periods of home office, employees worked alone. According to the SOEP-CoV study, around 20% of respondents felt lonely and isolated as a result. Even though most people are now working from an office again, working from home remains the “new normal” for many. So in today’s work environment, companies need to think hard about how to maintain team cohesion outside of Zoom calls. So here are some initiatives to promote mental wellbeing:

Virtual coffee breaks

Create a (virtual) space for your teams to catch up.

Work-free communication channels

Set up channels to discuss movies, music, culture and other hobbies and passions. 

Start a club or community

Form groups and clubs for book lovers, musicians, artists, members of the LGBTQIA+ community and other interest groups to increase a sense of community. Meetings can be held in person or online.

Offer a joint sports program

Sports provide balance to the working day. When colleagues work out together, it boosts team cohesion and forms new bonds. Employees can enjoy fitness programs either online or on-site. 

3. Encourage a healthy work-life balance

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Many companies advertise a healthy work-life balance to the outside world, but the reality is different. It’s difficult to maintain work-life balance in the workspace, and deadlines, unrealistic goals or long working days often lead to mental strain amongst employees which leads to high staff turnover. To maintain company appeal and reduce employee stress, focus on initiatives that promote work-life balance. 

Regular breaks

A simple but effective way to balance work and reduce stress is to take breaks during the day, especially when working from home. It can be difficult to switch off during working hours and at the end of the day, so employers should actively encourage their teams to take regular breaks to reduce stress and prevent exhaustion and burnout. 

Offer more flexibility 

Indeed’s study found that 42% of respondents would like more time off and the opportunity to reduce overtime, so consider giving your employees the option to work part-time and schedule their own hours. That way, employees can work when they’re most productive and balance their personal life with their job.

Introduce me-time

To promote balance in the workplace over 60 technology companies, including Lyft and Dropbox, gave their employees “me time” during working hours. This time can be used to volunteer or for recreational activities like sports. Just one hour per week significantly improves work-life balance and increases motivation. 

4. Promote physical well-being 

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Various studies show that exercise helps increase productivity in the workplace, and a study by the Ruhr University in Bochum found sport and exercise helps fight depression, leads to a greater sense of well-being, improves concentration and boosts overall energy levels. So get your employees fit and healthy with the following initiatives:

Corporate fitness for companies

Offer company-wide fitness to your employees as a corporate benefit. Urban Sports Club‘s offer includes 50+ sports that take place online, on-demand or on-site – so every employee will find the perfect way to balance their day. 

Team-building activities 

Shared activities bring teams closer together. Monthly team events, a sports challenge or a sporty team workation (working + vacation) helps employees form bonds and improves mental health too. 

Meditation breaks

Give your team the opportunity to relax and relieve stress during the working day by funding membership to a meditation app and scheduling regular time-outs for short mindful sessions.

5. Give regular feedback and recognition

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One effective way to support mental health in the workplace is to introduce regular feedback sessions – just make sure this simple initiative doesn’t get lost in the hectic working day. 

Ensure regular feedback

Weekly or monthly check-ins are an ideal opportunity to maintain personal relationships, motivate employees and build trust. 

Address mental health

Feedback sessions should also cover the mental health of the employees. Ask how the employee is feeling, whether their workload is manageable and the challenges they’re facing.

Give praise and recognition

Managers tend to focus on challenging projects that didn’t go smoothly. While feedback is important, remember to also focus on projects that went well, as praise and recognition contribute to our mental wellbeing. 

In summary, mental health in the workplace is crucial in today’s working world. To support employees in challenging times, prevent mental illness and ensure a positive working atmosphere in the long term, companies must introduce appropriate initiatives. Even small changes can make a big impact, so start small and expand to meet the needs of your team. 

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