Five ways you can support mental and emotional health in your workplace

Many modern workers spend more time at work than they do at home. This means that creating a productive, supportive environment for your employees is essential.

A good working environment can make a huge difference to your employee’s confidence and mental well-being. However, creating a supportive workplace is about more than offering free coffee and long lunch breaks.

As an entrepreneur, you need to create an environment that fosters better health outcomes and make operational decisions that support your employee’s wellbeing. Here are five ways you can support mental and emotional health in your workplace.

1) Be aware of gender and wellness at work

As a female business leader, you probably understand the challenges that women in your industry face better than most. This puts you in a fantastic position to advocate for gender-related wellness benefits at your business.

For example, you might consider tackling a few of the major issues that women face at work today. Closing the gender pay gap and advocating against the ‘motherhood mentality’ can make a serious difference to the mental and emotional health of your employees. 

You can also advocate for other progressive policies like supporting employees who are navigating menopause. Taking a forward-thinking approach can reassure employees and help them feel supported.

This is important, as supportive workplaces can have a big impact on mental health. A positive working environment that supports women can improve retention, reduce the risk of burnout, and increase productivity at work.

2) Advocate for better work-life balance

Achieving a healthy work-life balance is a top priority for business leaders in every industry. By encouraging a healthier work-life balance, you can support the mental and emotional health of your employees and help them avoid stress-related conditions like burnout. 

When advocating for better work-life balance, try to offer more flexible working to your employees. Employees who can set their own schedule can make time for other important life events, like getting help from a therapist or pursuing a hobby that helps boost their self-efficacy. 

If going to a fully flexible work schedule isn’t possible, consider giving employees the option to work remotely during the week.

A hybrid-style work environment gives employees a chance to skip the commute and save costs while still benefiting from in-person office interactions. When folks do come into the office, ensure that they have access to all the resources and equipment they could possibly need. 

3) Create a supportive office environment

Your employees spend a lot of time in your office environment. That means you need to create a space that supports their mental and emotional health as well as their productivity. This might sound like a tall order at first, but just a few changes can turn a cubicle nightmare into a workspace where folks love to spend time. 

Start by optimizing the productivity of your space. Employees who have to work around poor design will become frustrated over time and may feel undervalued if they aren’t given a space that supports their work.

The most productive office layouts usually offer a combination of open floor space and co-working areas. This will allow some employees to mingle while others can get their heads down and work on individual projects.

If you find yourself with leftover space, consider creating areas that support health and well-being. For example, if you have a spare room to work with, you might create a calming break room or a small yoga studio. Just investing in employee-wellness rooms will help your staff feel valued and promote better emotional health in your workplace. 

4) Model healthy networking practices

Your employees already know that they need to network to take their careers to the next level. However, many employees don’t have the networking skills they need to make professional connections. Similarly, others may feel pressured into drinking after work or at events with colleagues, even if they don’t really want to. 

As a business leader, you can set a great example by modeling healthy networking practices. Limit alcohol consumption at work parties and offer structured networking opportunities in addition to informal events. This helps break the ice for folks who might find socializing stressful and reduces the risk of employees developing unhealthy drinking habits. 

Try to become a mentor to folks who find networking difficult — even if it results in current employees moving on to bigger things. Encourage your employees to seek out career development opportunities and let them know that you’ll help them craft emails and CVs. This will garner you a reputation as an employee-friendly business and land you talented employees in the future. 

5) Provide extra resources

Creating a great work environment with plenty of healthy networking opportunities will help you support the mental and emotional health of most employees. However, from time to time, your employees may need a little extra support.

You aren’t obligated to help employees who are struggling with issues outside of work, but doing so will improve the overall health of your workplace. There are plenty of extra resources you can consider as a progressive employer. You might, for example, consider: 

  • Providing access to a licensed therapist
  • Offering additional “mental health” days — no questions asked
  • Offering training funds to all employees
  • Proactively resolving accessibility issues

Taking up these policies will help you support mental and emotional health in the workplace. You can even advertise the changes you make to foster inclusivity on social media. This can be great for your branding and recruitment efforts as folks today are looking for progressive, inclusive employers who take mental and emotional well-being seriously. 

A few small changes can make a big difference to your employees’ mental health

A few small changes to your current policies and working environment can make a big difference to your employee’s mental and emotional health.

You can better support employees by offering flexible working hours, collaborative workspaces, and structured networking opportunities. This will look great on your social media and help you create a happy, productive workplace. 

Photo by Ant Rozetsky