How can a company build a culture that champions mental health?
To help your company build a culture that prioritizes mental health, we asked HR leaders and CEOs this question for their best insights. From offering flexible schedules to making mental health services accessible, there are several strategies to help your business foster a culture that champions mental health and supports employee well-being.
Here are 12 ways to build a culture that champions mental health:
- Offer Flexible Working Schedules
- Promote PTO Day Usage
- Nurture a Culture of Engagement and Productivity
- Keep a Close Eye On Employee Behavior
- Let Employees Create Culture
- Actively Support Mental Health Initiatives
- Have Leadership Lead by Example
- Create Work Clubs to Promote Involvement
- Provide More Information About Company Policies
- Offer Gym Access to Employees
- Hire An In-house Happiness and Meditation Coach
- Make Mental Health Services Accessible
Offer Flexible Working Schedules
Every person has their own biological clock and feels best working at different times. In our company, we propagate the culture of flexible working hours by only setting weekly checkpoints. The working patterns are at the discretion of each employee. In turn, we enjoy the high motivation and avoid burnout of our colleagues.
Michael Sena, SENACEA
Promote PTO Day Usage
One VERY important way a company can build a culture that champions mental health is to always promote your employees’ PTO (paid time off) days! Depending on what business you run, and whether the business is busy seasonally, it can of course be difficult to promote this initiative. However, every leader, manager, boss, and CEO must acknowledge that your employee’s mental health and personal time is extremely important to their workflow and productivity.
If you see that one of your employees isn’t using their PTO days regularly, talk to them privately and encourage them too! During team meetings, make sure to promote it and ask your employees to just let their bosses know what days ahead of time. Every hard-working employee in your organization deserves some PTO time to relax, do activities they love, go explore the world, and recharge their batteries so they come back to work refreshed and ready to crush it!
James Burati, 1-800-PackRat
Nurture a Culture of Engagement and Productivity
Your company culture is the very foundation of making your employees feel psychologically safe at all times. Work is like a second home, so it needs to be a non-toxic place for employees so as to ensure it’s not negatively impacting their mental health. That’s why nurturing a diverse, fair, and inclusive corporate culture is so essential. If you breed an environment of diversity and inclusivity, as well as offer an open-door policy, then your team will feel at ease, and ready to be engaged and productive. Be sure to explain your SOPs regarding this during onboarding, and even give your current team an occasional reminder of how important mental health is.
Ryan Rottman, OSDB Sports
Keep a Close Eye On Employee Behavior
When employees begin showing up late, or even completely calling in for an entire day, much more than normally expected, then chances are that they may be feeling overwhelmed, and that they need that extra time to take care of themselves. If you begin to notice this trend, set up a meeting and see how you may be able to help. Maybe they need a few days off to regroup, which is beneficial to everyone. Plus, if those days out of the office can be planned a few days out, it may make it easier for the rest of your team to support them in finishing tasks prior to their time away.
Lee Joss, The Quality Edit
Let Employees Create Culture
Although promoting diversity and equality in the workplace is an ongoing responsibility, one strategy to promote diversity in your business is changing the mindset when hiring new employees. Embrace the mindset of letting employees add to the company culture instead of just fitting in. This will help foster a more inclusive culture and promote mental health.
Company culture is important to make employees feel like they are a part of something. Culture can also become so well defined that it feels like one needs to fit in which can be taxing on mental health. Encourage employees to be themselves and make them feel comfortable talking about their struggles. Not only can this help employees feel supported, but it brings a fresh perspective to the company as a whole and helps retain diverse talent.
Jeffrey Pitrak, Transient Specialists
Actively Support Mental Health Initiatives
One way for a company to build a culture that champions mental health is by actively supporting mental health initiatives. There are many organizations and groups out there that are dedicated to spreading awareness of the importance of mental health. With a bit of research, a company can easily find one (or many) that they’d like to support. To be even more proactive, companies can contact one of these organizations for a more engaging experience and inquire about how they can help support their initiatives.
Datha Santomieri, Steadily
Have Leadership Lead by Example
People are often scared to voice mental health problems because they are worried about what their managers will think. I have worked with people who take sick days and tell their colleagues they have the stomach flu, instead of feelings of burnout because of this. Especially in work cultures where ‘hard work’ and long hours have a bit of a ‘medal’ attached to them, people feel there is a risk of coming across as weak or not dedicated.
These are the cultures that could most benefit from championing mental health. If leadership and the more senior people in the company lead by example – e.g. regularly discussing the importance of mental health, openly welcoming people to take mental health days, reinforcing cut off hours on emails, perhaps even sharing their own experience of supporting their mental health, it gives it a big dose of permission to trickle down into the rest of the workplace culture.
Hannah Ray, TAKE Coaching Amsterdam
Create Work Clubs to Promote Involvement
Remote workers need a sense of community, even in a virtual environment. Spending an increased amount of time in isolation leads to negative mental health such as loneliness or depression. Having shared experiences with others improves employee satisfaction and productivity almost immediately, and the payoff is well worth it.
Companies should develop remote work clubs that team members can make use of, such as a book club or philanthropy organization to get employees involved and connect with each other. They can also experiment with communal working spaces such as a WeWork, coffee shop, or lounge room located in their building. It’s easy to remain secluded when working from home, however, building relationships in a virtual setting and getting out of their comfort zone is essential to workers’ well-being.
Natália Sadowski, Nourishing Biologicals
Provide More Information About Company Policies
Promote more communication and more information about company policies regarding mental health. Employees who feel their managers are bad communicators or apprehensive about talking freely with them are more likely to suffer from their mental health.
Encourage a culture of confidence and understanding between workers. One that ensures them that the company will always put their wellbeing first, and has the infrastructure to prove it. Now more than ever, people want to belong in companies that value and respect their employee’s well-being. The way to prove that’s the case is by accompanying words with action.
John Cheng, Baotris
Offer Gym Access to Employees
Destigmatize mental health by offering an onsite gym. Physical well-being informs mental well-being. When your staff has the option to work out before or after work without having to travel anywhere but a few feet from the desks, studies show most are more likely to prioritize getting or staying in shape. A healthier, more energetic team buzzing with positive endorphins is often the result.
Erin Banta, Pepper
Hire An In-house Happiness and Meditation Coach
Wellness programs are fairly common at many companies now, but most programs just check a box and don’t really help the employees move the needle on their mental health. Having a full-time happiness and meditation coach can offer employees a safe space to meditate and get guidance in a 1:1 setting.
Dasle Kim, DailyPay
Make Mental Health Services Accessible
A company can create a culture of mental health by offering many types of free or insurance-provided services for those who may need them. There needs to be lots of easy access to a wide range of services. These can be addressing those who just need someone to talk to once to those dealing with a significant mental health issue themselves or with a family member.
Doris Vengjen, Dentist North York