As we return to onsite work after a two-year quarantine, facilitating our office team’s mental health transfers to the office space. The COVID-19 Pandemic began a discussion of how the individual worker can create a relaxing home office space. But as the world reopens, how can the office itself be stress-free? With a spotlight on mental health, we should understand how job conditions affect the entire company and team.
Recognizing the Early Signs of Mental Health Issues
Early signs of stress are often reactionary, the alarm phase. Panic sets in with heavy workload, and the body frantically tries to react quickly. After, the body attempts to regulate stress after a long alarmed state; called the resistance phase. However, if stressors persist and are a consistent presence in the workplace, these resistances tend to weaken. Consistently working in a mentally draining environment, the body adapts and ends up in a constant state of exhaustion. Rather than building up further resistance, the employee ends up feeling only panic and exhaustion.
Work stressors not only result in reduced efficiency and further exhaustion, but also cynicism towards the workplace. A mentally strained employee will begin to view the company and its values negatively. Unlike its physical counterpart, mental health is ultimately invisible unless you actively try to look for the signs. It is best to take preventative measures early overall.
Alleviating Workplace Stress
To facilitate a mentally healthy work environment, you must first recognize that occupational stress is an occupational risk. Preventing and mitigating stressors should be treated the same way as physical hazards. For instance, a construction worker failing to wear a hardhat to a construction site would require risk management. It is necessary to take the time to discuss workplace safety with the worker and give them equipment. In the same way, risk management against occupational stressors requires both discussion and proper action.
Balancing Control and Demand
Job control alters the level of control a person has in their line of work. Employees will view their job as unfulfilling if their input and skill range is ignored. They may recognize this through factors like low pay, workplace discrimination, or not seeing themselves reflected in the company’s accomplishments.
The pressure on productivity lies in the job demand. We know that productivity is essential in a functioning company, and deadlines are necessary to be consistent in productivity. Setting realistic deadlines on what your team needs to achieve without compromising their mental well-being can also be helpful. Ensure regular checkups with your team, and you must be neither passive nor aggressive when placing pressure for productivity.
Provide Support for Mental Health
Before tending to individual employees, it is important to see that your team has available assistance and resources to address mental health concerns. Companies may expand their employee benefits to cover mental health counseling or therapy. Employees may be hesitant to seek mental health counseling if they are unsure of what their health insurance covers. Make sure that they are aware of these provided benefits and how they will benefit in the long run. Employee assistance programs (EAP) may also aid your employees during significant life events. EAPs cover not only financial relief but also mental health support.
We often get so lost in our work that we see slowing down as detrimental to productivity, and we fail to understand that a level head will only enhance quality work. Take regular breaks, separate yourself from work outside of office hours, and make your mental wellbeing known to your superiors. Teams should also tend to their own well-being.
The Key is Valuing your Employee
Stress is a certainty not only at work but in life itself. You cannot predict mental health issues, but you can prevent stressors that trigger this. These steps pave the way for an open and supportive work environment where employees are not only valued but cared for. In the case of offshore teams, the importance of keeping them engaged can help facilitate mental health better. Through company activities like wellness sessions and monthly huddles, teams are able to slow down and take a quick breather every once in a while. These help them refocus and recover from piled-on stress, while reinforcing their true value to any company.
Simply put, it is not only how the employee views the company’s leaders and demands but how they see themselves in the company that shape a healthy workplace. By valuing your employees through care and a collaborative work environment, work will never become a primary stressor in their lives.