Why prioritizing mental health is good for employees and employers

By Deb LaMere, Director of Human Resources, Data site

The pandemic has prompted governments and business leaders to find creative solutions to a variety of challenges, from social and public health issues to the general environment and the world of work. While companies have generally focused less on political, social and environmental challenges, these issues have now become major concerns that companies and their leaders can no longer ignore. In reality, research shows that most people think CEOs should hold themselves accountable to the public – not just their board or shareholders – and over 85% of people say CEOs should lead on corporate issues.

If they haven’t already, it’s clear that businesses and their leaders need to step in and start talking and taking action on social issues. Over the past 18 months, the CEO of my company, Datasite, has speak and implemented several key social topics. Earlier this month he (and we) did it again, when we recognized World Mental Health Day October 10.

Organized by the World Health Organization (WHO), World Mental Health Day aims to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilize efforts for mental health. With the pandemic negatively Affecting the mental health of so many, this year’s theme of Making Mental Health Care a Reality for All is a great opportunity for businesses to demonstrate their potential to be a force for positive change. In doing so, business leaders can not only support their employees, but they can also find that having happier and healthier workers leads to greater productivity.

There are a number of ways that businesses can approach employee well-being. Research shows that three factors can influence the well-being of workers. These include the demands of the job, the ability to make decisions and social support. Workers whose jobs have high demands, low decision-making skills and low social support have a higher risk of ill-being. In other words, companies that offer jobs with reasonable workloads, give employees fair control over their working conditions and schedules, and train managers to respond to employees with empathy and flexibility, will see levels higher engagement and job satisfaction. They are also likely to see less turnover among their employees; something that plagues many industries right now.

So how can businesses ensure that these three factors are met?

Setting up and establishing the right environment can go a long way in the well-being of employees. For example, to continue attracting and retaining talent, especially in the competitive tech and software industry, companies will need to go even further by providing compelling benefits and creating and maintaining a culture that soft and make employees feel connected and seen.

Providing managers with the right training can also have a big impact on the well-being of workers. When the pandemic struck, entire global workforces had to switch to remote work almost immediately. It was the time for global managers and business leaders to ensure that employees could focus on their physical and mental health amidst the uncertainty of the world.

The ability to balance the demands of the work and the personal lives of each worker has become essential, and “people first” have become the mantra of American businesses. Some companies offered benefits such as financial allowances to compensate for financial difficulties during this period, while others worked in-house to provide managers with training so that they could help their teams deal with issues such as financial pressures, social isolation, childcare, mental health, etc. technology issues, senior care, or distractions at home.

Whether it’s extra sanity reload days, or with company management encouraging teams to take breaks during the day, the question of how companies have supported employees during the pandemic is now top of the list for today’s job seekers.

Companies that failed to support their employees during the pandemic today may face the ‘big resignation’ and further evidence that employers need to prioritize mental health in the workplace.

Leading with care and providing employees with resources or activities, such as instructor-led virtual meditation sessions, can go a long way in improving mental well-being in the workplace.

Businesses and their leaders must help de-stigmatize mental health. This summer, sports stars Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles showed the world that mental health and personal care should come first, even when it means stepping away from big events like the Olympics or Roland Garros. Of course, when it comes to business, some workers may prefer not to contribute to company-wide discussions or events. This is why individual support is just as important.

Having programs that address mental health or help raise awareness can be a powerful way to support employees on an individual level. Donations to organizations such as the World Federation for Mental Health can also show employees, customers and stakeholders how important mental health is.

The benefits of good mental health and well-being are equally important to employees and employers. Prioritizing mental health in the workplace can help make employees more resilient. Mentally healthy employees can focus better and be more productive. Establishing and maintaining a workplace that promotes and supports good mental health and well-being is good business now and in the long run.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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