We all need to be concerned for the mental health and well-being of our teams. Today’s workplaces are primed for the development of a range of mental health issues including anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, sleep disorders and more, and 2020 didn’t do us any favours. Issues like these have a major impact on productivity, engagement, inclusion, burnout, and the development of strong corporate cultures. However, there is a lot that can be done to support your teams and promote healthier work environments.
Over the past several decades, the way in which we work has become increasingly prone to mental health issues. Advances in technology have led to efficiencies but have equally created demand for instant gratification and tighter turnarounds — not to mention an ‘always-on’ work mentality. Further, economic challenges have reduced team sizes placing more responsibility on individuals, and socioeconomic issues such as workplace inequality have created additional stressors.
The result is that individuals are doing the work of many, putting in longer days, responding at all hours, taking less leave, and taking less time for themselves and their families. The effect this has on our minds and bodies varies greatly, which is one of the primary reasons mental health issues are often overlooked, or worse, ignored.
Common mental health issues include:
- Anxiety, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting
- Depression, sadness, tiredness, numbness
- Low self-esteem, body-image and eating disorders
- Overstimulation, feeling limitless, abundance of energy, rapid talking, inability to focus
- Sleep disorders
- Animosity towards others
- Exhaustion, hallucinations
It’s a challenge that affects everyone from front line employees to executives. Research shows that 60% of today’s workforce believe that mental health issues have negatively affected their workplace productivity [Source: Mind Share Partners]. An even higher percentage have left positions due to mental health issues. What’s worse, many companies have yet to view these issues as a priority, leaving employees feeling uneasy about bringing them up and continuing to struggle. Yet, nearly all of us believe that companies should support mental health, so what can you do?
Mental Health Movement
With Mental Health Awareness Month coming up, there is no better time to consider your company’s approach to mental health. Here’s where to start:
Align Your Culture. The first step in designing a mental health program is to make the well-being of your employees a priority within your company culture. Examples include implementing ‘offline’ time that respects non-business hours; creating a more ‘natural’ office environment by correcting stressors such as lighting, noise, and space; and encouraging greater flexibility to allow for remote working, recreation, and personal time. Most importantly, you must ensure that everyone remains accountable to these values by including them in your review process.
Align Your Benefits. The mental health benefits you offer should be an extension of your cultural values. For example, offer training to help employees become more aware of mental health issues and to feel more comfortable seeking support. Provide employee assistance programs that include such services as counselling, legal and medical support, as well as childcare assistance. Offer ample personal leave time and encourage its use throughout the year.
Align Your People. Shaping your culture takes time and repetition, and you need a memorable way to get your people on board. There are a number of ways to accomplish this, however music (you knew music would fit in somewhere) is one of the most effective ways to communicate your messaging while also generating engagement — not to mention it offers a ton of mental health benefits. Music has been proven to treat anxiety, reduce stress, develop relationships, heighten positive emotions, and stimulate memory. For instance, SongDivision’s Energy & Well-Being Sessions use music and music-inspired techniques to help communicate complex messaging, while also giving teams a chance to recharge.
Whatever your strategy, mental health issues are presenting a growing challenge in the workplace, especially as businesses return to in-person setups. Your people need you, and as we approach Mental Health Awareness Month, consider how you can better support their health and well-being.
Promote a healthier work environment at your company using music!