With mental health conditions and claims on the rise, mental health in the workplace is becoming an increasingly relevant topic to HR managers. Often an employee assistance program (EAP) is the only ongoing mental health support offered to employees as reactive therapy to deal with personal or work-related issues. However, without proper support from leadership, the effectiveness of EAPs and other mental health promotions is diminished. In order to achieve a mentally health workplace, the key factor is leadership for lasting change.
The main driver of a mentally health workplace is the example given by the leaders within an organization. It is vital that leaders have high emotional intelligence and a holistic understanding of their own self-care and wellness. Leaders can develop a range of skills to improve their emotional intelligence and as a result their role as a model for employees. These traits include:
- Listening without interruption and acknowledging and validating what they hear
- Asking questions that recognize the person’s strengths
- Regularly checking in on each person under their supervision
- Trusting employees to act and make decisions with autonomy
When leaders reflect these traits, employees will perceive greater support for their wellbeing from them. This is the first step in revealing to employees the nature of leadership as supportive and considerate for their employees.
DRIVING POLICY AND PRACTICE
Another key factor controlled by leadership is the relevant policies and practices that are implemented to ensure adequate levels of mental health support for their employees. Typically the only form of ongoing support offered to employees is a reactive employee assistance program (EAP) that offers face-to-face therapy when employees are in crisis.
Other employers offer early intervention employee assistance programs, like Uprise Health, that offer both reactive and pro-active support to work as a holistic employee lifecycle tool. Early intervention EAPs reflect a more supportive leadership, that ensures employees are supported before they experience crisis and are resilient to stressors that may be caused by the workplace. In 2018, users of the Uprise Health platform rated that they perceived their managers as more supportive after completing a range of skills-based modules that teach the best-practice tools to self-manage stress. Try a free online demo of Uprise Health.
Recent research in the UK, US and Canada found an increase in the perceived pressure for perfectionism, a pressure that is associated with anxiety and fear of failure. When leaders encourage unrealistic expectations surrounding deadlines and achievements combined with little room for failure or risk, there is greater pressure on employees. Increased pressure in this form actually reduces productivity and threatens the risk of burnout.
A leader can encourage greater resilience in their employees by creating a workplace culture that encourages investment in individual wellbeing. To do this, employers can provide employees with training that teaches them how to self-manage stress. Uprise Health offers this training pro-actively, to allow employees to invest in their wellbeing while they are well so that they can draw on different tools and resources when they are struggling.
A key indicator for a positive and mentally healthy team culture is psychological safety. Psychological safety is when team members feel safe to task risks and innovate, and is related to feelings of hope, optimism, self-efficacy and resilience. In 2018, Uprise Health found increases across all of these factors as a result of teaching employees evidence-based tools to self-manage stress.