There was a time when mental health concerns were deemed private—certainly not a topic to discuss in the workplace. Thankfully, this has changed. Today mental health awareness initiatives exist in all arenas of our lives. And it’s widely understood that psychological health is just as critical as your physical health.
Furthermore, studies reveal the business case for supporting mental health at work. Depression and anxiety, for example, cost our global economy an estimated US$1 trillion per year in lost productivity.
Research by the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that for every US$1 invested in treatment for common mental disorders, there is a return of US$4 in greater health and productivity.
WHO recommends the following six best practices as ways for employers to support mental health in the workplace:
- Establishing health and safety policies that allow for the identification and management of distress, harmful use of psychoactive substances and illness
- Communicating clearly to staff what support is available
- Empowering employees, giving them a feeling of control and participation
- Establishing processes and practices that support a healthy work-life balance
- Organizing career development programs
- Celebrating staff contributions
How do you prioritize mental health in your organization?
As a business owner, how are you investing in the mental health of your team? We asked EO members to share their strategies, as well as any challenges they experience:
Levi Pruss, CEO, YZAG, highlights a sense of gratitude among team members, with “a micro-bonus system for employees to send each other bonuses.” He explains that “It was challenging to quantify the mental health issues and measure the effectiveness of our changes. So, on a monthly basis, we ask team members to rate their happiness at work with 1 to 5 stars. Nothing else. When done consistently, the results tell the story.”
Rishi Khanna, CEO, ISHIR, understands that employees spend most of their time at work, so he focuses on maintaining a supportive and healthy workplace culture. “We ensure that our employees feel valued and empowered. ISHIR is in a business where people need to have a solution-mindset and if they are stressed, they will not be able to think of creative ways for addressing client challenges. The policy that has worked best for us is a two-way feedback system where people can share feedback and new ideas without the fear of being judged or dispelled. We also conduct HR sessions where employees are encouraged to come together as a community to celebrate successes and achievements while also learning key updates.”
Micah Thor, President, Tech Guru, encourages staff to tend to their mental health by providing “a rotating, monthly mandatory mental health day to ensure every member of staff is taking time off to recharge. In addition, a licensed therapist comes to our office for a one-hour individual coaching session with each employee. The focus is on stress management, both inside and outside the workplace.”
Bryce Welker, CEO, CPA Exam Guy, focuses his efforts on work-life balance by offering what he calls blackout days. “Team members can set aside one day every week when they’ll be completely unreachable and have no new assignments or deadlines. It costs no money to do this since employees aren’t paid for a day when they don’t work, but it helps them to stay sharp and can even improve their productivity.”
Rhonda Overby, President and CEO, Camera Ready, Inc., admits that deadlines can get in the way of a healthy focus. “We recognize that taking a moment to breathe, though it seems there’s not one second to spare, actually lends itself to better, more strategic results.” She continues, “When stress mounts due to hard work, we take it as a sign that we need to play hard, too. Our team enjoys trivia nights after work, 10k races and volunteering with local organizations to help us stay balanced.”
Jennifer Rotner, Founder and Owner, Elite Editing, empowers and supports her mostly virtual staff: “We cover each other by making sure at least two people are trained into every role. This way, if someone is overwhelmed or out unexpectedly, someone else can step seamlessly into her shoes. Additionally, one of our core values is trust, and we trust one another to get the job done without looking over one another’s shoulders.” She sums up her strategy by saying, “If my team is happy, healthy, and inspired, I know I’m doing something right.”
Additional Posts on Well Being:
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The 5 Most Important Times in Your Day to Restore Your Energy, According to Science
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Marshall Goldsmith: Buddha for Women Entrepreneurs
The High Cost of Bankruptcy: Your Mental Health
How to Deal with Founder’s Depression after a Failed Startup
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