Employee Mental Health: How Leaders Can Support
The well-being of your workforce should be a top priority. Healthy, happy, and engaged employees are the pinnacle of a thriving organization. As a leader, you can champion change to help your employees thrive in their roles and lives.
One of the most effective ways to achieve this happy, healthy workforce is by leadership taking an active role in supporting their employees’ mental health.
At Fresh Tri, we get it – getting employees on board with mental health initiatives is hard. They have a lot on their plates, and understanding these initiatives can be a tough sell. Simultaneously, creating a healthy environment for your employees can’t be at the expense of revenue or productivity.
Don’t worry – we’re here to help guide you on how leaders can support their employees regarding mental health.
Understanding the Challenges
Before attempting to “solve for x,” you must understand your employees’ challenges regarding their mental health concerns. Get tuned in to the pulse of your direct reports by opening the lines of communication.
Concerns that employees are facing can span from work-related problems to personal struggles. Regardless of where the struggles originate, they can manifest differently and impact an employee’s ability to do their job effectively. Leaders can take a proactive approach to helping their employees iterate toward their mental health and wellness goals – here’s how.
Open The Lines Of Communication
Leaders must actively cultivate an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their challenges without fear of judgment. This can look like active listening, empathetic support, and regular check-ins.
You may not have the answer to everything, but an open mind and ears will give you a better understanding of where your employees are at.
Regular 1:1s With Direct Reports
With remote work being so popular since COVID-19 began, it can be hard to notice the signs that someone is struggling. Go beyond the typical “How are you?” and dig deeper to get to know your employees. You’d be surprised at how many employees are interested in sharing their thoughts and concerns when asked.
Here are some questions that you can ask your direct reports:
- “How are you feeling these days?”
- “How do you feel about the workload you have right now? Is it too much?”
- “Are you eating enough healthy food while you’re at work?”
- “Are there any support resources that you need?”
- “Is there anything you’re particularly concerned about?”
Asking these questions can feel outside of the norm, but they can help foster a great relationship between you and your team.
Provide Mental Health Resources
Mental health in the workplace isn’t improving, but according to the 2023 Mental Health at Work Report, some bright spots offer hope. Employers are investing more in mental health programs and awareness. It’s paying off and creating positive change that we all know is needed.
If you’ve previously shared mental health resources, do it again. And again! Offering access to mental health resources is one of the easiest ways to support your team’s mental health as a leader.
Ensure your direct reports understand where to find mental health resources and their Employee Assistance Program (EAP) information. Regardless of company size or the specifics of their program, wellness program participation rates are estimated to be about 40%. If it’s hard to find, no one will use it. It’s time to change that, and it starts with leadership.
Lead From The Front
Leading from the front is a modern military leadership style that encourages leaders to lead by example. This leadership style can inspire employees to take action – learn more, do more, become more – because you have first led the way. And while many of us aren’t in the military, we can take a moment to understand how that methodology translates to empowering your workforce through your participation.
Normalize the discussion about how you approach mental health and make positive changes in your life – this is the first step. Many people faced challenges during the COVID pandemic, forcing them into fight or flight mode. Suddenly, parents and caregivers were working remotely while also tending to their children’s needs and were expected to meet the same standards as before.
Mental health suffered severely because it just isn’t realistic to “do it all” like that. The work-life balance climate changed drastically and made mental health suffer. The best leaders identified these concerns, vocalized their understanding, and offered flexibility in work hours or workload.
In these types of scenarios, leaders sharing proactively about their situations can help alleviate some concerns that employees may have.
Set Reasonable, Flexible Workload Expectations
The needs of your team, yourself included, will change as time goes on. Keeping an open line of communication can significantly reduce workload bottlenecks at times of transition.
This doesn’t mean lowering your expectations. But, as a leader, you should take an honest look at your team and their workload to assess whether or not you can make adjustments that help employees thrive.
This could be a change in their scheduled work hours or removing things from their workload that are better suited for another employee or role.
Supporting Employee Mental Health With Fresh Tri
Prioritizing employee mental health is not only the right thing to do, but it also has far-reaching benefits for your organization. Leaders have a unique opportunity to directly impact the health and well-being of their direct reports and create a workplace where employees feel supported and empowered to thrive.
Your team’s mental health is valuable, and your leadership can make a huge difference in their lives. You don’t have to shoulder it all, though – there’s help.
Onboarding your employees with the Fresh Tri app (it’s free!) can reduce stress and increase productivity by encouraging employees to “Tri” their way toward lasting health and wellness.
Download the app today, and together, we can build a healthier, more productive, and happier workforce.