Why Every CEO Needs to Make Workplace Mental Health a Priority
Being a C-suite executive comes with a responsibility to oversee that other executives and team members have access to high-quality mental health resources in the workplace. Mental health and wellbeing should be a priority for management throughout all departments, yet many organizations still struggle to provide adequate mental health resources and support for workers.
According to CareerBuilder, 61% of employees report feeling “burned out” in the workplace. This may seem like a distressing statistic, but this information can be used by managers to tackle the root causes of stress within the workplace environment. By focusing on cultivating a work culture that nurtures mental wellness, leaders can enhance employee engagement and increase an organization’s bottom line.
The ability to fully support a team in various capacities is the backbone of a healthy and successful leader. Workplace wellness programs are a great way to create an overall behavioral change in employees, with 54% of professionals stating that employee morale was improved after implementing a wellness program, according to HUB.
However, CEOs need to realize that their own actions have the most power in changing the conversation to include mental health, creating a balanced and supportive environment for the mental health of all those in an organization.
Benefits of Mental Wellness in the Workplace
When mental health in the workplace is overlooked, not only are employees affected, but the entire organization can experience repercussions as a result. By keeping the topic of mental health to the forefront of an individual’s professional environment, they can enhance their wellbeing in their professional and personal life, as well.
High emotional intelligence, or the mental ability of an individual to be aware of the emotions of themselves and others, encourages healthy workplace habits which have an overall affect on their performance, such as:
- Heightened communication skills
- Increased empathy for others
- Higher employee engagement
- Lower stress levels
Leaders and top-level executives are always looking for how they can improve employee morale and increase the bottom line, with future-forward leaders realizing that this isn’t only achievable through managing KPI’s.
By emphasizing the importance of mental health in the workplace, leaders can establish a heightened human capital while providing employees with the ability to better self-manage and cope with challenges they may face.
Lead By Example With Mindful Managing
Now that we’ve established why leaders should strive to make workplace mental health a priority, we can dive into how this can be achieved. Supporting the mental wellbeing of your team cannot simply be completed with a 2-day workshop (although mental health development workshops can be extremely beneficial).
In reality, encouraging mental health is an everyday initiative that should be led by direct leaders. Usually, a human resources department in an organization focus most on the mental health and wellbeing of employees. However, it’s persistent team leaders who have the power to prioritize workplace mental health for those they support and lead. A mindful leader is one who improves team performance and who leads by example, specifically in the realm of self-care as it relates to mental health.
Surprisingly, 35% of respondents from a Mental Health America report stated that they miss three to five days a month because of workplace stress. What steps can leaders take to lower stress in the workplace and enhance the mental wellbeing of their employees?
Start the Conversation
As a leader, the best thing you can do to encourage employees to consider their own mental wellbeing is to start the conversation of mental health yourself. This can be a challenge for any leader, but I can say from my own personal experience battling depression and suicidal thoughts that corporate executives need to speak out and de-stigmatize words like “mental health” and “depression.”
I’m a firm believer that can be done simply by being open about your own experience with mental health, challenges you’ve faced, and resources you’ve utilized that have helped you personally. It’s why I started the Truth Behind Our Titles movement, because I believe that when you’re open with your own struggles surrounding mental health, your colleagues and team members may be more receptive to their own needs and seek the support they need.
Employees should be able to approach leaders in their organization with their concerns surrounding their mental health. As a leader, you can encourage these discussions by being fully present during discussions, nurturing positive and trusting workplace relationships, and providing regular intangible rewards for a job well done.
Put Supportive Programming in Place
With the right supportive framework, you can further propel the mental health conversation by providing accessible resources and services for employees. Steps taken are different between organizations, but can range from providing mental health benefit coverage for services like therapy and counseling, to having an online directory of digital resources, videos, and wellness development workshops available 24/7.
Support of mental well-being may also come in the form of providing subsidies for helpful services for your employees, such as child care, therapy, and other stress-reducing services.
Advocate for Regular Physical Activity
We’re all aware of how physical activity correlates to mental well being, which is why it’s vital that leaders encourage physical activity in the workplace. From fighting off stress to boosting energy and mood, physical activity helps employees deal with workplace challenges and conquer that “burned out” feeling.
To promote physical activity in your workplace, consider the following:
- Provide employees with standing desks, or encourage hourly movement.
- Put stair-climbing contests in place.
- Have one-on-one meetings while on a brisk walk, when appropriate.
- Let employees use their lunch break to head to a yoga or cardio class.
- Subsidise a type of “wellness fund” that can be spent on a gym membership, a bike, or other wellness-related investment.
Encourage a Healthy Work-Life Integration
In a world which is increasingly interconnected via technology, the boundary between “personal” and “professional” life can be hard to distinguish, leading to the concept of “work-life integration” rather than “work-life balance.” The reality is that many leaders and employees are attempting to juggle work, relationships, bills, and other lifestyle factors that can increase stress and cause a decline in mental wellbeing. To combat this imbalance, lead by example and take charge of your own self-care.
This new concept requires that corporate executives and business professionals lead by example and initiate conversations with colleagues and staff about how to effectively create balance, wellness, and keep mental and physical health a priority in an increasingly integrated professional environment.
Leaders and their team should be encouraged to take mental health days when needed, use up their vacation time, and set strict working hours to avoid endless days of overtime. When a work-life balance is achieved throughout all tiers of an organization, productivity is increased while stress is minimized.
Share Your Appreciation
To increase mental wellbeing and enhance employee morale, make sure that your team feels valued, appreciated, and vital to your organization. This can be as simple as saying thank you for a job well done, or providing high-potential employees with the skills and expertise they need to seek promotions in your organization. Leaders should take every opportunity they have to let employees know how grateful they are for their presence while giving themselves the credit they deserve.
Making Workplace Mental Health a Priority
Future-forward leaders are focusing on creating workplace cultures that put mental health at the top of their list of priorities. By cultivating an emphasis on mental health throughout an organization, you can create happier, more engaged employees while increasing the bottom line.
At East Tenth Group, we offer valuable HR strategy development and guidance, customized to the unique needs of your organization. Enhanced by a powerful content library of videos, ebooks, webcasts, and thoughtful articles, we’re available to help your business thrive.
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As the CEO & Founder of East Tenth Group, Michelle leverages 25 years of business and experience as a strategic advisor and executive coach to help drive actionable people solutions and provide practical insights on business strategy to senior leaders. she and her team and are fiercely committed to the development and growth of people and companies because we believe that when people thrive, business thrives.