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Mental Wellness & The Workplace

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In the era of COVID-19 it is more important than ever to take care of your mental wellness and those in your company. Wether if they are in the office or working remotely. Taking care of mental wellness, also general wellness is specially important for small companies where 1 team member is a big percentage of your team. What will happen if you lost one of them due to stress or any kind or mental wellness issue?

People tend to spend a considerable amount of their life at work. Through regular meetings, co-worker interactions and daily responsibilities, an employee will develop feelings about their workplace  for better or worse. As an SME owner, you want those feelings to be positive for everyone’s benefit!

Various factors can influence an employee’s experience within the company, such as the workload, management, teammates, etc… In order to create a healthy work environment, the needs of the staff should be addressed first and foremost — even before tackling profits and productivity.

We have published related articles before. However, on this article we want to give you some extra tips and advice about the topic.

Signs of an Unhealthy Workplace

Nearly every person has had at least one bad experience with a job or with co-workers. However, an embarrassing moment or small feud between associates doesn’t necessarily constitute a toxic environment. An unhealthy workplace is more a reflection on attitudes and leadership practices, which might even extend to clients and collaborators. Some warning signs of an unhealthy office include:

  • Lack of positive reinforcement: It is part of a managers’ job to provide positive feedback to employees. Without this type of encouragement or communication, a subordinate might assume that a certain task — or even his or her role in the company — is not a priority for the higher-ups. If negative feedback is necessary, it should be constructive rather than condescending.
  • Too much focus on the “bottom line”: Most professionals understand that there are certain expectations included in every job description, specifically productivity and contribution to the bottom line. However, burnout is a problem that affects those who have a narrow occupational focus. While it’s good to get tasks done, empathy and emotional wellness are just as important as the quarterly numbers.
  • Harassment: Blatant hostility, sexual advances and racial or gender-based discrimination are huge red flags that a workplace is toxic. Make no mistake: Harassment isn’t just an issue with bad managers. It could also stem from co-workers who want to flex their power over others. Bullying and harassment of any sort should never be tolerated, but it is unfortunately common and not always reported.
  • Obvious favoritism or roadblocks to advancement: Although managers are typically relied upon to oversee general objectives, prevent accidents and avoid HR issues, some employees may feel that there are serious obstacles to overcome in order to accomplish their responsibilities. The “glass ceiling” or inconsiderate managers can be discouraging and have a negative impact a person’s quality of work.
  • No professional and personal balance: Putting in more than 40 hours a week with inadequate compensation can greatly affect one’s personal life. When professional duties interfere with social ones, it could make home life quite chaotic and unbalanced. Respecting employee time can help prevent burnout and encourage employee satisfaction.

How Does an Unhealthy Workplace Affect an Employee?

Many people accept stress as a normal part of their industry. From meeting deadlines to making presentations to managing day-to-day workloads, stress can accumulate and affect one’s psyche. In a place where employees are expected to execute ideas well and adhere to a standard that promotes profit and efficiency, a worker’s personality and sense of individuality might get lost in the mix. After spending so many hours in the office — especially if it is a negative one — the psychological effects might become more prominent and spread to other areas of life.

A worker’s mood and mental endurance aren’t indestructible. Even the nicest HR manager can experience the burden of an intense office culture. An unhealthy environment may increase stress levels because of unattainable expectations, strenuous demands, unfriendly interactions among team members and other tense situations. This could potentially lead to depression, social isolation, anxiety and paranoia. Too much stress can also increase the chances of mental exhaustion and burnout.

Even though workday is supposed to be over when the computer is turned off for the day, many employees may continue thinking about it after they leave. If the trade is particularly difficult or time-consuming, it can alter an employee’s mental flow and keep him or her focused on their professional performance even after the end of the workday. This may not leave room for recreational activities or relaxation, which could lead to social isolation.

The physiological consequences of a toxic environment might alter one’s physical health as well. Sleep cycle changes, weight changes and overall lack of energy may stem from not having an adequate balance between home and work. When employees spend too much time worrying about projects, bosses and clients, their bodies can have a physical response in the form of unproductive coping methods and difficulty carrying out everyday activities.

In order to cope with the mental pressure of a harmful work environment, some staff members might turn to negative coping mechanisms. Abusing drugs and alcohol may temporarily relieve problems but could ultimately damage one’s health and performance at home and the office. Toxic businesses could contain triggers that lead to relapses, especially if they do not provide support for someone who needs to avoid happy hours or such gatherings.

Nurturing Your Employees

Once the signs of a toxic workplace are identified, it may be easier to start rebuilding the company’s atmosphere. Various aspects of company culture can be improved according to the needs, budget and willingness of the company.

Every company has a set of standards and practices that add to its overall culture. These norms could be positive and build a sense of community among employees when implemented properly. A positive culture can also help maintain productivity by encouraging collaboration and cooperation. A company’s culture is usually a primary influence in retaining and attracting new hires.

A “healthy” workplace extends beyond safety and mental wellness; as the pandemic has made all too clear, cleanliness is absolutely essential in an office. Physical surroundings matter. Hazards such as cracked ceilings or equipment dust might cause concerns among employees about their physical wellness. Prioritizing cleanliness and sanitization could make people feel more comfortable.

Additionally, “wellness” should apply to each person’s unique personalities and needs. While there is a certain responsibility attached to each person to be considerate and respectful of others, employee retention rates and company loyalty is likely to increase if staff members feel valued and appreciated. Without a happy team, there would be no company. Employees are one of the most important assets in business, which should make their wellness a priority.

We spoke previously about standing up offices and their benefits. Another different way to promote employee wellness is by providing flexible workstations. Whether your office has a bustling open concept or a modest group of cubicles, it can be beneficial to provide a place for quiet, focused work. While conference rooms are great for meetings and collaboration, sometimes employees could use an individual space for phone calls or intense work. Office booths are one option that give team members the privacy and quiet they need to accomplish their goals and maintain their mental wellness.

The benefits of a healthy workplace can apply to each employee, client and project. There are company policies that should be implemented to prevent instances of discrimination, toxicity and other serious offenses. Training, assessments and an emphasis on mental wellness could potentially improve experiences for everyone within the company. For more statistics on a healthy workplace and how to create a better one you have here a fantastic resource

Graphic created by Pillar.

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