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Mental Health and Workplace Productivity: Understanding the Connection

05 May 2023

A happy workforce is the biggest asset of any business. Happy employees are the most dedicated, productive, and efficient, and these are the employees that deliver the best results. Unfortunately, not many employers pay much heed to their employees' happiness and overall mental health.

Mental health and workplace productivity are directly and very closely linked. Employees with poor mental health (read: stressed, frustrated, and depressed) simply can't perform to the best of their potential.

This blog post will explain in detail how employee mental health and productivity are linked and how you can ensure sound mental health in your employees.

Understanding the Connection Between Mental Health and Workplace Productivity

Most employers today overburden their employees and keep unrealistic expectations from them without realizing what that could mean for the employees. The results are of sub-par quality, making the employer pressurize the employees further. An important point that many employers fail to understand is that maybe it's the undue pressure and expectations causing a decline in the employees' performance.

Well, that's true!

When employees work in a stressful environment where they're overburdened with work and are expected to meet unrealistic expectations, they cannot help but feel stressed, mentally exhausted, and even dissatisfied with their job. The results are poor morale, low dedication and motivation to work, and erroneous outcomes. An employee can't possibly be happy in such an environment. They're in a constant state of stress and anxiety, and this eventually affects their mental health. Poor mental health then leads to reduced productivity and efficiency.

If your employees are performing poorly consistently, you need to evaluate the work environment before putting the blame on your employees' skills and competency. There's a reason you chose them over other candidates, right? The competency doesn't vanish just like that! You need to look further into what's causing it.

In most cases, the answer will be something you knew all along but didn't have the courage to accept – a poor work environment.

How to Ensure Sound Mental Health in Employees?

If your employees aren't doing well mentally, there's absolutely no way they'll be able to perform at full throttle! If you've never given your employees' mental health a thought, now's the time you do.

Let's look at the many ways you can offer your support to your employees to ensure they're doing well mentally.

Initiate Dialogue with Your Employees

One of the biggest reasons employees' mental health keeps deteriorating in most workplaces is because nobody bothers to acknowledge this issue. The employers don't consider the employee's mental health an issue, and the employees don't feel comfortable telling their employer that they need help because they know it’ll be waived off as a non-issue. The result is that employees continue to work in the same conditions, and then comes the point where their mental health starts to affect their performance.

The first way you can ensure your employees are doing well mentally is by initiating a dialogue. Tell your employees that you understand their struggles at work and you're available to offer facilitation and assistance at all levels. Initiating an open conversation alone will make a huge difference. The employees would feel better knowing that you understand them, and they'll get help if and when needed.

Encourage Your Employees to Take Breaks

Work schedules can get very hectic. Many individuals are so tired by the time they get home that they don't have the energy to spend time with their families or do something they enjoy. The stress from work and the inability to enjoy life further deteriorates their mental health for the worst. Many employees are so depressed due to work pressure and stress that they don't feel like going to work, but they drag themselves to work every morning. Can you expect such an employee to deliver good results? Nope.

But you can help your employees safeguard their mental health and replenish their energy stores. Encourage your employees to take breaks. Instead of telling them why they can't take-offs during a certain season, offer them alternate options if you really need them during the days they wish to go on vacation. Many employers offer to leave encashment, resulting in employees saving up all their leaves. Try not to offer any incentives like this and encourage your employees to take days off and have some time of their own. Taking a break from work can help them destress and return to work happier, more active, and fresher!

Train Your Staff

Another way you can ensure sound mental health in employees is by training your staff, especially the managers and team coordinators, about the signs and symptoms of poor mental health and the right ways to deal with struggling employees. Many times, employees with poor mental health perform poorly at work. The managers often humiliate the employees for poor performance, further worsening their mental health. There's a reason they say, "people leave managers, not companies" When a manager knows their teammate is struggling with mental health issues, they'll know that they shouldn't confront them rudely or aggressively.

Train the managers to sit down with their struggling subordinates and have an open, non-judgmental attitude so that they feel comfortable enough to talk about their issues. Talking alone to someone who understands can do wonders for mental health. Also, train the managers to inform higher management if they feel that their teammate is in need of help from a mental health professional so that the problem can be addressed right away!

Offer Mental Health Consultation in Your Health Insurance

Many people are aware that they need therapy, but the cost often holds them back. Not seeking professional help worsens mental health. If you offer mental health consultation in your health insurance for the employees, the employees will seek professional help on time before their condition worsens. This is another way you can encourage your employees to address their mental health problems on time.

Provide Ergonomic Working Conditions

Not many employers work to make their workplace ergonomic. If employees are made to work in poor ergonomic conditions, they'll not only be uncomfortable at work but might also experience pain. When an individual is in pain, they won't be able to focus on work, resulting in poor-quality results. Not only this, when an individual is uncomfortable and in pain, they'll take longer to complete tasks and might miss deadlines. All of this will add to their stress and anxiety, which will be detrimental to their mental health.

One way you can address this issue before it becomes a problem is by improving the ergonomic conditions of your workplace. Invest in ergonomic office furniture, including ergonomic work desks and chairs, so that every employee is comfortable at work. Improve the workplace lighting to ensure the lighting doesn't cause eye strain which can lead to headaches and eventually result in poor productivity and efficiency. In short, take all the necessary steps to ensure your employees aren't under any sort of physical stress because physical stress will lead to psychological and mental stress eventually.

Don't Make Your Employees Work Overtime or Over the Weekends

Many employers don't find anything wrong with making their employees work overtime or over the weekend, but this is one of the worst things you can do to your employees. Imagine how your employee would feel if you asked them to work overtime on a particular day and left no room for them to voice a concern when the employee had been planning an outing with their family on that particular for an entire week. Not only will they work with zero motivation, but it'll also affect their personal life. Consider your employees as humans before anything else who have a life outside the office too. Make no overtime, no working on weekend policy so that your employees can maintain a healthy work-life balance!

Closing Word

Ensuring your employees' mental health should be on top of your list because if your employees aren't doing their best mentally, your business will suffer. You may be the brains behind your business, but your employees are the actual execution powerhouse. If you fail to acknowledge their efforts and put their health and well-being on top, they won't reciprocate the way you would want them to. Your employees are humans and not machines, and the day you realize this is the day you'll change your workplace atmosphere for your employees for the best!