January 27, 2020
Talking about employee mental health doesn’t have to be scary.
It’s not surprising that many employers are afraid to think about employee mental health. After all, they’re often only confronted with it once it’s already reached crisis level. But addressing mental health as a real and important factor in everyone’s life at work can be easier than it sounds—and it can prevent crises from happening in the first place.
Emotions are normal, not avoidable.
An employee’s mental health while working at your company is going to impact the quality of their work, their relationships with their coworkers, and how long they ultimately stay with you. Mental health doesn’t just mean mental illness—it’s all-encompassing, including both the positive emotions people feel and the challenges they face. All of the emotional responses a person might have at work—things like joy, panic, pride, satisfaction, rage, and comfort—are part of being human, and they’ll happen whether we want them to or not.
Opening the mental health conversation at work has real benefits.
It’s a common fear that talking about negative emotions makes them worse — the truth is that it can empower and validate the people around you. Not talking about them, on the other hand, allows them to fester and become something much worse.
Your people do better.
When someone is struggling with their emotional health, they may feel isolated and scared at work. They don’t know whether they can be honest with you about why they were late or why they seem less chipper than usual.
On an individual level, if an employee feels safe and supported, they stay longer and do better work. It’s just that simple. Having their back will alleviate the stress they feel and help them find their strengths in the midst of what they’re struggling with. They know you value them, and they stick with you in return.
Your company does better.
The positive effects of an open and honest culture benefit every aspect of your business. Even for those who don’t struggle with their mental health, being able to bring their whole selves to work comes as a massive relief. And, normalizing tough conversations allows co-workers to be more direct with each other, keeping the team agile.
Top 3 ways employees use coaching to support their mental health at work:
1. Cope with situational stress
2. Prevent long-term burnout
3. Increase resilience in the workplaceBased on internal analysis of trends in Bravely data
You look better, too.
We’re constantly hearing about yet another toxic work environment. None of those companies got that way overnight—and it often starts with a failure to foster a sense of safety around vulnerability. Taking steps toward a culture where openness and empathy is modeled from the top down is part of the formula for being the kind of place where people love to work.
Talking about emotions with your staff is easier than you think
Supporting mental health at work doesn’t have to be hard or awkward. Try these solutions for normalizing conversations about how we’re feeling in the workplace, and bringing a mental-health-conscious approach to important moments like performance reviews, conflict, and organizational change.
- Treat people like people. People have feelings. We all know that, but some work cultures ask us to pretend we don’t. Come into every interaction with empathy and an understanding that some conversations are more difficult for some people than others.
- Be transparent. The best way to decrease the stigma around mental health is to have open and positive conversations about it. The more leaders talk about how work affects them emotionally, the easier it will become for others to do the same.
- Provide confidential benefits. There are a lot of tools and resources for HR departments to use that promote emotional well-being and positive habits, many of which can be used anonymously.
- Train your managers. Most conversations about mental health will happen in 1:1 conversations with managers. Help your leaders navigate these resources with training and guidance.