Calm Indian woman with closed eyes meditating at workplace in modern living room, relieving stress
Mental health issues affect businesses and their employees’ job performance and productivity. Discover how you can help foster a healthy work environment.

Employee well-being is crucial to the success of your organization. Stress in the workplace is not a new issue, but the COVID-19 pandemic is a new threat to workers’ mental health.

With the right culture and resources, you can create an environment where employees have access to the tools they need to manage their stress and feel comfortable using them.

Young worried entrepreneur woman looking at laptop computer at home

Common mental health issues in the workplace

As many as 83% of U.S. workers experience work-related stress. Prolonged periods of stress can result in a state of mental and physical exhaustion known as burnout.

Depression is another problem that can affect workplace performance. In 20% of cases, depression makes it difficult to complete physical tasks and in 35% of cases, it affects cognitive performance.

Between isolation and external stressors, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a situation in which employees are more likely to experience mental health problems. You can face this new challenge by making their well-being a priority.

A confident female counselor attentively listens as a patient discusses something during a session. The counselor is wearing a protective mask as she is working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Strategies for creating a healthier work environment

While well-being is important for 80% of organizations, only 12% feel ready to address it. Here are a few strategies for closing this readiness gap.

#1.  Assess the current situation.

You can measure the quality of life in the workplace with tools like the ProQol inventory or design your own survey. An initial assessment will help you open up the discussion about mental health. You can conduct regular surveys to track well-being over time and get an idea of how well different strategies are working.

#2.  A culture of boundaries

Too often, workers feel obligated to take on more work or respond to emails during the weekend. Develop a culture that makes it clear that employees can say no or respond later.

Remember, you’re addressing well-being in a professional context. There are some boundaries to respect. For instance, you shouldn’t ask about personal health information or make assumptions about a diagnosis.

#3.  Encourage communication and compassion

Simple gestures like checking in with an employee can make a difference. You can encourage managers to communicate more or pair employees with an honesty partner so they can talk about stress.

Talking can reduce stigma. Open communication will help you spot issues early so you can be proactive, resulting in an environment where people don’t feel judged for talking or using resources.

#4.  Make resources available

Employees need access to tools they can use to manage their mental health. Being more flexible about workload or schedule can make a difference. You can also offer concrete solutions like leaves of absence or job sharing. Even simple tools like a meditation app can foster well-being.

REDI recently sponsored a workshop roundtable on the topic of mental health in the workplace. You can watch the recording and hear experts’ opinions on this topic here with passcode !%LTHK7U.