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Forging a Strong Business? It’s About Employees’ Well-Being

Everything in terms of mental health and well-being is about finding the right balance. It is something that affects every organization and every business has a responsibility to support its staff. It may not be about incorporating massive changes. But by adding small components that don’t just help our employees feel more confident, but also encourages an environment where everybody feels happy to speak up if they are struggling means a stronger business in every aspect.

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Learning how to protect your business isn't just about the physical and financial components. Protecting the bottom line is a priority, but we have to remember that learning to look holistically at a business is vital to ensure that it grows in an organic manner. Protecting our business is about protecting our employees too. And when we consider that well-being is very much a 21st-century concern, it’s surprising that many businesses aren't actually embracing the holistic approaches to improving employees’ well-being. Mental health is something that has affected every single one of us, especially in light of recent events. And while the pandemic has made many people feel less protected and insecure, there are things that we can do to look after our employees’ mental well-being.

Giving Our Employees Confidence

The working environment is a place rife for discussion and small talk. Gossip is one of those things that appears to be par for the course, but the big problem we have from the perspective of managers is that when a rumor starts, it goes around the office quickly. And while gossip is something that we have to stop in its tracks, we have to remember what gossip can do to the working environment. 

It doesn't just halt productivity, especially when employees are concerned about their jobs. It also diminishes our employees’ confidence in the company and our ability to lead. When employees feel they are in a precarious environment, they won't feel confident. This means that we need to put procedures in place for the benefit of our employees, but also for the benefit of complying with rules and regulations effectively. But maintaining the two is a very delicate balance. 

You can forever be drug testing employees to ensure they are fit to work, but spot checks in any environment can make employees feel that they are on a moving target. If we want to give employees confidence, we need to find approaches to give employees faith in our abilities and faith in their own. But how do we do this?

Focusing on a Culture of Support

Creating a culture that is supportive is a long journey. While it begins with us we have to remember that a workplace environment is only as good as the sum of its parts. You can argue that now, a supportive environment in the office is almost non-existent. But we can find other ways to support each other. It's important that everybody feels that there is a group mentality so an employee can feel confident in their abilities to speak up. 

Mental well-being isn't just about mental health, but it's about feeling that they are strong enough to speak up in this environment. when people do not feel they can say anything, this implies a culture of oppression. This can be the death knell for any positive environment. Yes, there is a case to be argued for running a tight ship. But when we look at the work environment from a holistic perspective, the importance of creating a workplace that encourages autonomous employees and individuals who feel comfortable enough to voice their concerns means that you are doing something right. 

Creating a culture that is supportive is partly to do with the employees you hire, but it goes back to the objectives you had at the outset. It's something that many business leaders find themselves straying away from over time. Going back to those core values means that you are actively focusing on creating a culture of support. After a while, a business can solely focus on the bottom line. Profits are important, but when a group of employees doesn’t feel motivated enough to benefit the company, you are in trouble.

Focusing on Flexibility

Many businesses have had no choice but to adapt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The biggest change was remote working. But when people start to go back to the office, we must remember that flexibility is still important. When people have mental health problems or bouts of anxiety we have to remember a more flexible approach may be required. We need to make adjustments to anybody with a physical disability, so why don't we do the same for those that are struggling mentally? 

It is about striking the right balance because we have to remember that the needs of the business come first, and if an employee is over-communicating their anxieties and is making you doubt their abilities, you still need to make adequate concessions to ensure they are doing their job properly. Flexible working needs to be an essential, not something that would be nice to have. A flexible approach doesn't mean you have to bend over backward for an employee. By providing something as simple as home working and flexible working hours can make a massive difference to someone that is struggling mentally. By giving them a bigger window to do their work they are able to complete the tasks you set, which will benefit you at the end of the day. 

In addition, by incorporating a more flexible approach, your employees are less likely to take any days off sick especially in the modern environment where stress can be too much. We have to remember that millennials are the “stressed generation”, and when we start to think about the multitude of stresses heaped upon the younger generations, this can mean that when they come into the workplace, all their stresses and anxieties may come to a head. By supporting the employee in this way, it will benefit your business.

Starting an Open Dialogue

The simplest thing that we can do is create an open dialogue and a supportive working environment. Mental health is something that we all have brushes with. Many employees feel they are not able to speak about it for fear that it could compromise their work, or even their job. And it's entirely up to an employee to tell as much or as little as they want about their thoughts and feelings. But what you can do is create a strong internal dialogue about the importance of mental health. We need to treat mental health as seriously as we would physical ailments. 

When we start to create this, people will not feel that they need to hide any issues that they are struggling with. This boils down to having an open-door policy and regular one-to-one meetings to ensure that you are both on the same page. One of the many barriers between employees and employers is that they feel they cannot open up about these issues. But whether they want to open up about their mental health issues or not, the one thing that we can help them with is their stress. If they are experiencing stress in the working environment, this will negatively impact their ability to work and to manage their mental health. 

An open dialogue is crucial to reducing the stigma about mental health. Because mental health is such a wide-ranging topic that comprises anxiety stress all the way through to various states of depression, we must remember that by creating a support network, our employees will feel able to speak up.

The Importance of Positive Mental Well-Being

Incorporating positive mental well-being in a work environment requires a significant amount of preparation. We can focus on good work-life balance as a key factor in helping our employees cope with mental health struggles. But as employers, we can focus on reducing employee stress levels and managing their anxiety in terms of incentives. Duvet days, gym memberships, or even meditation sessions can help our employees in a wide variety of ways. And it's important that we provide a diverse range of resources, because every employee is going to deal with their ailments in their own way. 

While many organizations are focusing on well-being hours, we have to remember that the methods will not always be effective based on our employees’ individual needs. Some people require appropriate time so they can recuperate and feel better in the work environment. But sometimes, it's as important for us to lead by example and understand that we need to take a day away for ourselves. Looking after our employees’ mental well-being also means looking after our own. When our employees see that we are prioritizing our mental health it's sending the right message. This is something little that we should all prioritize. When the mask comes down in an airplane, we need to put hours on first. And as important as it could be to show employees that we care for them, we need to look after ourselves as well.

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