A recent World Health Organization study estimated that stressful work environments cost businesses millions of dollars each year because of increased absenteeism and lost productivity. What does this mean for your business? Creating a happy, friendly, and supportive work environment can help your business’s bottom line as much as it will improve your employees’ mental health.
In fact, the workplace is the perfect setting for creating a workplace culture of health and well-being. Employers can offer incentives to reinforce healthy behaviors, and strong social support networks and communication structures are already in place.
Here are three ways you can improve mental health in your workplace:
1. Stock Healthy Snacks
According to a recent article from NPR on the effects of diet on mental health, eating nutrient-dense foods can improve your brain’s ability to produce hormones that make you feel energized, focused, and happy. A steady diet of junk food, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect. When your brain feels sluggish, your attitude follows suit.
You can help improve your employees’ mental health, in other words, by keeping break rooms stocked with healthy snacks (fruits, vegetables, and nuts) and by avoiding doughnuts and sugar-filled drinks. This will help keep your employees from mentally burning out over the course of the day.
2. Offer More Flexible Hours
Ideally, work and personal life would never compete with each other. However, many workers struggle to find balance between making sure company deadlines are met, spending time with family, and taking care of themselves. Indeed, a study done at the University of Minnesota found that employees with flexible work schedules are healthier because they get more sleep, have higher energy, and take care of themselves when sick. In addition, they were significantly less inclined to work-life conflict and emotional exhaustion.
Employers who offer flexible hours understand that workers who can manage all aspects of their lives without added pressure are mentally healthier. If offering more flexible work hours is a possibility in your industry, it’s definitely worth a shot.
3. Turn Off the Computers
Although it’s important for workers to be focused and efficient, sometimes the best thing you can give your employees is time to unplug and have a few laughs. Scheduling regular social activities allowsyour employees to build relationships that don’t just revolve around work and take a much needed mental break.
According to The Social Workplace, “67% of people believe that it’s their colleagues who encourage and help them do their jobs better, making teamwork and relationship building an important aspect of company or office life that is well worth fostering.” Although team building events and activities sometimes get a bad rap, they should not be thought of as an optional treats but as investments in your employees’ overall well-being.
Creating a work environment that feels safe, positive, and encouraging will help mitigate workplace stress, anxiety, and exhaustion, reduce absenteeism, and boost your employees’ productivity. Provide fresh fruits and yoga mats, or treat everyone to happy hour drinks. Whatever you choose to do to improve mental health in your workplace, I guarantee it will be worth it.
Want more information about ways you can improve mental health in your workplace? Check out Northwest’s articles on the following topics:
6 Ways Yoga Can Improve Your Productivity at Work: Learn how incorporating a little downward-facing dog into your work life can not only improve your outlook on life, but help you get stuff done.
Why Health is Important For a Small Business Owner: Learn how improving your own health is an excellent way to inspire your employees to do the same.