Furthermore, the concern for mental health stability in the workplace grew during the pandemic, as most employees experienced uncertainty – financial and otherwise – during these times. Most people started working from home, and reports say that about 44.4% of those people stated that their mental health has declined since the outbreak began. The lockdowns and isolation made it worse, and professionals are struggling to keep up.
While we should never diagnose our co-workers, it is imperative to at least try to help and make things better for them at work and respect their private lives.k
How Can You Tell if an Employee Is Suffering From a Mental Health Issue?
It can be difficult to tell if an employee is suffering from a mental health issue because most of the time, the symptoms aren’t visible. Some people present physical issues, while others do not. However, there are some signs that you can watch out for when trying to determine if your employee is struggling with their mental health. This includes the following:
- Concentration issues. If you notice that your team member is having a difficult time finishing their task and missing lots of deadlines, they might be facing a mental health problem.
- Depleted energy. If your staff used to be jolly and energetic and you notice a drastic change in that behavior, then it might be time to have a one-on-one talk.
- Absenteeism. It’s the employee’s right to take some time off work, and that includes taking care of their mental health. However, if you notice that they are missing work often and are failing to notify you beforehand, then they might be dealing with something more serious.
- Loss of interest. If an individual is showing signs of disinterest in the things that they used to enjoy, then it might be a sign that they are with a mental health issue.
- Social withdrawal. Some people like spending their time alone, while others thrive on being around others. If you find your extroverted team member suddenly withdrawing from social gatherings at work, then you can try lending a hand by talking to them in private.
The best way to deal with an employee with mental health issues is by talking to them and offering all the help that you can provide. However, please note that some people are not comfortable talking about such things, and you shouldn’t force them to do so. Invite them to talk privately and mention what you’ve been seeing or noticing. Be kind and patient about it and try to understand where they are coming from.
Here are a few pointers that you can follow to support your team’s mental health during an unexpected crisis.
Let Them Know That You Understand
Oftentimes, employees are scared to admit that they have an underlying mental health condition because they feel they might be stigmatized and discriminated against. This is even harder for individuals who are new to the feeling, so make sure to show your team members that you care.
One way to show that you understand what they are going through is by hosting an employee wellness program. While you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) force your employees to open up about their mental health experiences, you can open up to them, share credible resources and tell them that you are open to talking about the topic.
Moreover, you can also invite a therapist or a mental health advocate to speak during the wellness program. This can encourage people to reach out since they will realize that they are in a safe and welcoming environment.
Make it clear to your employees that you appreciate their presence, especially during a crisis. Show them your support and verbally tell them that you are thankful they are part of the team. Aside from that, you can also show your gratitude through the following gestures:
- If you have an office pantry, fill those with snacks and some of the food that you know your employees will appreciate.
- Recognize your team members through social media. This way, they can share it on their own pages.
- Create some type of rewards system to further motivate your staff. The ones with the highest points should receive a gift from the company.
- Give them ample benefits. This should include physical and mental health check-ups, sick and vacation leaves, team-building activities, and more.
- Celebrate milestones through team parties and outings.
- Write them a thank you note, or you can also choose to gather the team and thank them publicly.
- Provide a positive working environment for your team. Not only will this help motivate them, but it will also aid with proper communication within the organization.
Stand Up When You Are Needed
As a team leader, you must be around to show leadership and empathy, especially during a crisis. Your employees likely look up to you, which means that you must be able to maintain your composure during difficult times. Work on your empathy skills and make an effort to check in with your team every once in a while.
If you are working remotely, then consider hosting video calls or chats every day if there is a crisis. Make it clear to the team members that they can give you a call or message you anytime, even if it’s not entirely about work. Show them that you care enough to listen to their problems and that you understand where they are coming from.
Remind your staff that it’s a must to take mental breaks every once in a while. Encourage them to participate in activities that they would consider a hobby or simply entertaining to refresh their minds. Be compassionate and understand that your employees have a life of their own outside of work.
One thing that most managers have learned over the years is that remote work can be just as productive as showing up in the office. All it takes is proper time management skills, an organized process, and guidance from leaders. Some of your employees might thrive working from home, while others might prefer doing their tasks from the office. Give them the flexibility to choose which one they would rather do, as this can help them maintain healthier mental wellness.
Here are a few tips for managing your remote employees:
- Provide guidelines and set your expectations early on.
- Organize your processes and provide the right tools that your team members can use.
- Track each individual’s progress through apps such as Asana, Slack, Zoom, and other project management applications.
- Encourage the need for constant communication. Hold team meetings, catch-ups, and daily reports.
- Always be available to your teammates and make sure to build connections with each one of them.
- Make collaboration possible, even between remote and in-office employees.
- Avoid micromanaging and check their progress through the said apps instead.
Encourage Solidarity Within the Workplace
Let your team know that everyone is in this together and that each one should be willing to help out whenever a crisis arises. Train your team to look out for each other’s well-being and help out with tasks, even if it is out of their scope or comfort zone. This way, everybody can be each other’s shoulder to lean on, even when you are not available.
Additionally, you should also try the “servant leadership” approach. This means prioritizing authority rather than imposing power within the workplace. This method allows a more lenient and comfortable environment in the office, making it easier on your employees’ mental health.
Here are a few tips for encouraging solidarity within the organization:
- Admit your mistakes and apologize for them. This sets a good example for your team members, plus, they will recognize that you are, indeed, a true leader who is willing to own up to their errors.
- Educate yourself regarding mental health issues and paint yourself as an ally.
- Avoid stigmatizing your employees’ mental health in the workplace and instead, show your support by letting them know that you understand what they are going through.
- Get involved in difficult situations and be prepared for sensitive conversations.
- Provide training and well-being seminars for your employees’ mental health.
Providing employee mental health support in the workplace is more important now than ever before. With lots of social issues looming around the proverbial corner and with everything that’s going on in the world, it’s high time you start prioritizing your staff’s mental health.
Take note of our tips, update your processes, and see how your employees react. Good mental health practices create more inclusive and supportive organizations which are a win-win for everyone involved.