Workplace stress is a reality around the world. In a recent study, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) found that work-related stress around the world costs global society billions in direct and indirect costs annually (source: WFMH). And the ramifications go far deeper than the financial costs – the human costs of workplace stress can equate to depression, suffering, and, in some cases, even suicide.
A mentally healthy workplace is key to avoiding workplace stress – a workplace that’s supportive and respectful of employees and their needs, and a workplace that treats employees not simply as human resources, but as humans.
Here are our top 5 tips for building a mentally healthy workplace:
- Be flexible
Work/life balance has become an increasingly important consideration for both employees in deciding where to work, as well as for employers looking to attract new talent and retain existing employees.
With increasingly demanding schedules taken up by work and personal commitments, promoting a healthy work/life balance is imperative in maintaining employee wellbeing.
One way to help foster a healthy work/life balance is to offer flexible working arrangements – enabling employees to work remotely and to flexible hours so that they can comfortably fit in their other commitments alongside their work.
- Awareness and prevention
Be aware of practices and/or behaviours that may be triggering unnecessary workplace stress. To do this, you and your organisation first need to gain a thorough understanding of the causes of workplace stress – and what you can do to prevent it. Partnering with professional associations and taking part in awareness campaigns can help educate your workplace and provide ideas for prevention strategies so that workplace stress can be both understood and prevented.
- Be inclusive
Provide greater opportunities for employees to take an active part in decision-making. This will not only help to make them feel empowered and give them greater job satisfaction, but also to give them a greater sense of self-esteem and achievement. This comes with adopting a more open and collaborative approach within the workplace – rather than an approach which is rigid and hierarchical.
- Have appropriate OHS management procedures in place
It’s not enough to think you know how to deal with workplace stress in theory. The reality is that workplace stress takes many different forms, and its causes and effects are felt differently within the contexts of each individual. Having a comprehensive OHS management system in place that not only addresses employees’ physical wellbeing, but also their mental wellbeing is key to promoting a healthy workplace.
- Embrace mental health as part of your workplace culture
The ILO’s work has highlighted the importance of social environments in shaping workplace behaviours and values. Addressing mental health within HR policies is a start – but an understanding and acceptance of mental health as an important part of everyday life, and an open, communicative, supportive and collaborative workplace culture is essential in supporting a mentally healthy workplace.
Want to find out more about how you can build a mentally healthy workplace? TrainSmart Australia also offers a Mental Health diploma course, Counselling diploma and a diploma course in Community Services (government funded) that can help you support those with mental health issues within your workplace.