According to research from the World Health Organization, one in four of us will be affected by mental health at some point during our lifetime, with mental disorders being one of the leading causes for illness in the world.
While often swept under the rug, mental health is prevalent in the workplace, impacting relationships in the office and the productivity of employees. Research from Mental Health America suggests that as many as 80% of employees claim workplace stress impacts their personal relationships.
More importantly, their Mind the Workplace Report states that only 36% of employees felt they could rely on their supervisor for support.
These findings suggest that not only is the workplace often responsible for triggering mental health issues, there’s not enough support to those who are suffering.
As a line manager, there’s no doubt you have a lot on your plate. Juggling responsibilities and team management as well as disputes that might crop up between employees, means that monitoring the mental health of your team is likely to be far down on the list of priorities – especially when performance slips.
However, by actively ensuring mental health is high on your agenda, you’ll find your job becomes easier as employees are more productive, happier, and less disruptive.
But how do you go about ensuring the mental health of your team is taken care of? Here are 10 top tips:
1. Become more confident about it
Many managers don’t tackle mental health head on because they simply don’t know how to. Spend time familiarizing yourself with the company’s mental health policies, and liaising with those in HR who can provide advice on how you can support your team.
2. Normalize conversation around mental health
Unfortunately, mental health is still very much a taboo subject. And it’s this that holds companies back from recognizing it as a key issue impacting the workplace. Whether your company talks about it openly or not, set a precedence where you and your team do. Regularly check in on them to see how they’re getting on, whether they’re feeling stressed or under pressure and allow them the space to ask questions and raise issues – remember, allow them to talk about home life as well as stress at home could easily overspill into worktime and impact their productivity.
3. Set a good example
Leading by example is the best way to establish a positive mental health culture. Take the time to not only encourage healthy habits in your team – such as taking their full lunch break and only working within their contracted hours – but show them how it’s done. Overworking and not taking the time to properly rest after busy periods will only damage morale. If you don’t advocate healthier habits, they won’t either.
4. Be as available as possible
Scheduling regular one-to-ones can make a big difference to your team’s mental health. It enables you to build a more meaningful relationship with those in your team while also ensuring they feel validated in their role. During these catch-up sessions, take time to ask about their workload, agree reasonable deadlines for any ongoing or upcoming projects and ask them how their day is going. It’s not a space in which to assess their performance, but rather an opportunity to connect with them and ensure they’re okay.
5. Take a moment to review the current situation
No matter how heavy the current workload is, it’s vital you and your team take a moment to collectively review the team’s mental health. Not only will this help bring clarity about the current issues your team is facing, but it allows individuals to reflectively think about their own mental health and consider the mental health of others. During these sessions, you should take the time to discuss how things can be improved and come up with an action plan that promises to deliver.
6. Spend time encouraging positive working relationships
Good teamwork and collaboration are only going to occur if everyone has a positive working relationship with each other. And this type of relationship is unlikely to manifest itself overnight. Support positive behaviors that inspire collaboration and information-sharing by offering praise to those that deserve it. This helps employees feel appreciated for their efforts, while keeping lines of communication open.
7. Raise awareness within the business
At the end of the day, if your team don’t know you’re championing better mental health, nothing’s going to change. Not only should you be encouraging mental health conversations between team members, but raising awareness of it across the business is crucial. Line managers are in a great position to feed back to senior management and boardroom executives on how you and your team are tackling the stigma of mental health.
8. Treat everyone as an individual
No matter how many instruction manuals you read, not everyone will experience the same issues in the same way. You need to listen to your team and maintain a flexible management style that caters to each individual. Regularly ask for feedback to see how you could improve the support you offer.
9. Create an open dialogue culture
Getting employees engaged in how they want the team to be run and how they do their job is a great way for getting them invested in their work. You want to promote a culture of open dialogue where individuals can voice thoughts and concerns. Leverage a more autonomous management style to empower employees and let them feel like they’re in control. Be sure to communicate the wider goals of the organization so they can see exactly how their contribution impacts the company’s future.
10. Provide opportunities for development
A big part of being a line manager is ensuring your team has the space and inclination to grow and develop as professionals. By supporting your team this way, you’ll be helping them gain skills and confidence they didn’t have before. A lot of employees feel stressed because they don’t get enough support from management so ensuring they’re well-equipped to do their job will take away a lot of those fears.
Maintaining good mental health doesn’t have to be hard, but it does require you to be proactive. It can sometimes be overwhelming as a manager when there are so many other things that need your attention. But by focusing on the mental wellbeing of your team, you’ll soon start seeing progress in other areas.