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Creating a company culture that supports mental wellbeing

The average American adult now spends 1/3 of their entire life working.

So it follows that company culture plays a huge part in supporting (or harming) employee mental wellbeing and overall quality of life.

Not sure where to start? Here’s how to create a work culture that allows your team to thrive.

Challenges employers face

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way companies operate. Around 1/3 of US employees are now “always” working remotely (Gallup), while the likes of Twitter and Spotify have announced that their staff will have the option of working from home forever, from now on.

On the face of it, working from home has a score of benefits—more flexibility in our daily routines, more chances to spend time with our loved ones, no more rush-hour commutes. But could we be missing watercooler/coffee break chat and connecting over bad jokes with folks from other departments more than we realize? Since the shift to remote working, employees have reported heightened levels of stress, feelings of depression, difficulty connecting and reduced wellbeing. And many people are having trouble with work-life balance, too, as their work and home lives converge.

Building a company culture that helps workers manage stress is no small challenge, but without it, your employees may suffer. And when your employees suffer, your entire organization does, too.

The pitfalls and dangers of poor mental wellbeing

The stigma surrounding mental wellbeing means that 47% of employees are “unlikely” to take time off for stress. Yet studies show that heightened stress levels can negatively affect productivity, creativity, engagement and problem-solving skills.

And as employee stress rises, your company’s productivity falls. Thankfully, building a company culture that prioritizes mental wellbeing can go a long way towards avoiding these workplace problems and, as an employer you have the opportunity to positively impact your employees’ mental wellbeing.

Company culture: it’s in your hands

There’s no doubt about it: poor mental wellbeing among employees is bad news. Bad for you, bad for them and bad for business. The good news is that creating a positive company culture can help your staff to manage their mental wellbeing, handle stress and build resilience.

Many factors affect the mental health of your employees, and as an employer there are only so many you can influence. However, one thing you do have lots of influence over is your company culture.

The potential benefits of more balanced mental wellbeing among your staff are far-reaching. By providing your employees with the practical wellbeing tools to handle stress, you’re not only supporting wellbeing and a more positive working environment for you and everyone else—you’re also making a good investment. Every $1 spent on effective and easily accessible mental health coverage returns $4 in increased productivity and reduced sick days (NAHPC).

Creating a company culture that prioritizes wellbeing

A team is brainstorming ideas in a meeting room.

Leon via Unsplash.

1. Open up communication channels

Although 87% of workers are afraid that stress could impact their ability to do their job in future, just 25% believe their company provides the necessary support for dealing with poor mental wellbeing (Aetna). Necessary support starts with a conversation. By talking with employees about mental health and encouraging them to open up, you’re providing them with a vital coping mechanism and a support network that they can call upon.

2. Ensure financial wellbeing

Two in three US adults cite money worries as a key source of stress in their lives (APA), and as an employer you’re in a prime position to support your employees financially. But this doesn’t just mean paying them well and on-time. You can also support your staff by offering resources and trainings to educate them on finances, discouraging excessive borrowing and encouraging them to start saving money. Supporting mental wellbeing also helps with financial health — poor mental wellbeing can drive people to spend more, put off dealing with creditors and take out loans they wouldn’t otherwise (Money and Mental Health Policy Institute).

3. Encourage people to prioritize their physical health

Research suggests that physical health and mental wellbeing are intimately linked. Encouraging employees to cycle or walk to work, and providing benefits that make it easy to incorporate movement and healthy eating into their lives are all great ways of encouraging your team to take care of their physical health.

4. Look out for signs of stress or poor mental wellbeing

Encouraging employees to speak up about mental health issues is one thing, but that doesn’t mean all of them will feel comfortable starting the conversation. That’s why it’s also a good idea to encourage team members to look out for signs of stress among their coworkers and offer them support. This in turn can create a company-wide support network wherein employees are unafraid to report potential issues.

Does your company culture support mental wellbeing? Could poor mental wellbeing be affecting your team? Let us know at foundations@koahealth.com.