In today’s world, diversity has become a significant concern for organizations. However, diversity alone is not enough for an organization to succeed. Since professionals spend most of their time in their workplaces, it is essential for organizational leaders to create an environment that fosters employees’ well-being.
Over the last decade, the topic of psychological health in the organization gained increased awareness, and employees are paying attention for good reasons. About one in five employees in the US experience some form of psychological issues every year, and depression continues to be the leading cause of disability worldwide. Besides, anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety, panic, OCD and post-traumatic stress disorders, are the most common psychological illnesses in the US, affecting over 40 million adults annually.
Therefore, the article delves into effective strategies and actionable tips that help cultivate a psychologically healthy workplace.
Psychological Health as a Part of Diversity
Although most organizations stigmatize and overlook psychological health, similar to race, ethnicity, gender and other aspects of diversity, psychological health is an integral part of everyone’s identity. It shapes how people experience the world and interact with others. However, people consider psychological health a personal issue instead of a social or cultural aspect, and organizations often marginalize and exclude those employees struggling with psychological issues.
Irrespective of one’s identity and background, anyone can have psychological issues affecting how one sees oneself and others. People with psychological issues often face discrimination, social exclusion and stigmatization, leading to isolation, shame and low self-esteem. Due to interconnections between psychological and physical health, the issues often cause negative physical health outcomes.
When an organization promotes psychological health, it stands as a source of strength and resilience, which further helps build connections and create community. By embracing and acknowledging psychological health as a crucial part of diversity, organizations can create inclusive and supportive environments that value the diverse experiences and perspectives of all individuals.
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Importance of Psychological Health in Workplace
Approximately 50% of employees experience psychological issues. The increasing percentage every year makes psychological health a crucial aspect of the organization. Besides affecting employees’ performance, poor psychological health hinders the organization’s overall productivity. Unfortunately, 75% of employees report that their organizations do not follow any psychological health strategy that helps them cope with stress, anxiety and depression.
Psychological wellness is critically important in an organization, as it helps employees cope with setbacks and challenges in their workplaces and homes. With a positive state, employees can identify and regulate their emotions. Besides, psychological well-being enables employees to empathize with their coworkers and improve social and cognitive skills. Moreover, positive psychological health in a workforce is crucial as it flourishes the current roles, boosts resilience and manages stress.
Poor psychological health among employees can affect an organization in the following ways:
Errors and Poor Decision Making
God’s decision-making requires focusing on the current issues and weighing all the possibilities. An employee with poor mental health remains distracted, and the inability to focus on a task increases the chances of making errors. It can range from ineffective communication to inputting wrong data into the computer and developing creative solutions for challenges. It further affects personal time management, project planning and general control organizational environment.
Revenue for all businesses is the outcome of various efforts, including innovation, attention to detail and excellent services. Organizations having strong psychological health earn more profits. When employees in an organization put complete effort into managing different relationships instead of brainstorming ideas and remaining productive, the business loses its valuable employees’ contributions. The organization must keep an edge over its competition in such a scenario.
Damaged Reputation and Negative Brand Association
Customers are the backbone of any business. When these customers value how an organization treats its employees and shares them on social media platforms, they can see low employee morale. An organization gains its reputation and value from the work carried out by the employees. When an organization fails to pay attention to employees’ psychological health needs, it risks its brand associated with callousness ad negativity, affecting its talent acquisition and sales.
Low Morale and Increased Turnover Rate
Satisfied employees have strong social networks and exhibit high loyalty. Tensed interactions with colleagues and supervisors leave an organization’s internal structure with little room for growth, creating low employee morale. Unless the organization values its employees, they are more likely to leave.
Poor Relationships with managers and Supervisors
The hierarchical structure of the businesses and the pressure created by the managers leave the employees feeling anxious and vulnerable. If an organization has an overbearing boss micromanaging every detail, it will make the employees feel an absence of trust in their competence and ability to fulfill their roles. Often managers hold unrealistic expectations for deliverables, deadlines, and sales quotas. When employees work under constant stress, they experience strained relationships.
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9 Ways to Promote Psychological Health in a Diverse Workplace
By implementing specific strategies and holding every aspect of the organization accountable, organizations can foster the development of minorities, encourage a productive workforce, and promote psychological health for the employees. Enlisted are nine actionable steps that offer measurable outcomes.
Raising Awareness and Reducing Stigma
Organizations must invest in educating employees about various psychological issues. Besides, the managers and other leaders must also organize workshops to reduce the stigma and shame associated with psychological disorders. It is crucial for organizations to create safe spaces where people honestly speak about their experiences without the fear of judgment and rejection.
Managers and organizational leaders can support employees suffering from psychological disorders, such as counselling therapy and peer support groups. It helps employees feel connected to others who share their experiences.
Create Inclusive Policies and Practices
When organizations support policies and benefits, they contribute to employees’ psychological health and well-being. Organizations can consider strategies, including psychological health resources and psychological health days and sensitize HR and management. Companies must offer access to psychological health resources, such as employee assistance programs or counselling services, to employees experiencing psychological health challenges. Ensure to inform the employees about the resources so that they feel comfortable when seeking help.
Managers must allow employees to take psychological health days when required without any extensive documentation. It demonstrates the firm’s commitment towards employee well-being and encourages open communication about psychological health. Managers must be supportive when employees require a psychological health day, thereby fostering a culture of compassion and empathy.
It is essential for human resource personnel to undergo training to recognize signs of psychological health issues and offer appropriate support and resources to the affected employees. It is the responsibility of the leaders to create a non-judgmental environment where employees seek help without fear and negative repercussions.
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Advocate Psychological Health Rights
Leaders can also advocate for policies and laws that protect the rights of people dealing with psychological disorders. It includes access to affordable and quality healthcare and protection from discrimination in professional and personal lives.
Encourage Employee Feedback
When managers encourage employee feedback, they create a psychologically safe workplace environment. Organizations must support their employees with multiple channels, including surveys and suggestion boxes, so employees can share their thoughts and ideas. It is crucial for the leaders to regularly solicit feedback from the employees, listen to their concerns and address them. An organization with improved conversation has a stronger culture. Therefore, every organization must try to improve the quality of dialogues with the company.
Address Discrimination and Harassment Immediately
When managers and other leaders address harassment and discrimination, they create a psychologically safe workplace. It is vital for organizations to lay down clear policies and procedures for reporting and addressing instances of discrimination, microaggressions and harassment.
Encourage Work-Life Balance
When employees in an organization achieve a healthy work-life balance, it helps maintain good psychological health. Managers and other organizational leaders must offer flexible working hours, remote work options and compressed workweeks. These approaches empower employees to better manage personal responsibilities, reduce stress and enhance overall well-being.
Organizations must also promote the importance of regular breaks throughout the workday. Leaders must make it a priority for the employees to leave their desks and cubicles and engage in various physical activities and mindfulness exercises. It will recharge them psychologically. Organizations must have designated break areas and relaxation rooms where employees can relax during the breaks.
Furthermore, leaders must encourage employees to take their allotted vacation time to rest and rejuvenate. Managers must offer clear guidelines to ensure that employees feel comfortable taking their time off without the fear of falling behind. Organizations must promote the idea of vacations, as they are essential for psychological and emotional well-being.
Foster Social Connections
Managers and organizational leaders must know what promotes psychological health. Yes, it is strong social connections and a sense of belongingness. Organizational leaders can organize team-building activities that encourage collaboration, effective communication and connection among employees. The activities range from team lunches and outings to group projects and volunteer opportunities. Leaders who create a positive and inclusive team environment foster a sense of belongingness and companionship.
Moreover, organizations can establish employee resource groups or affinity groups. It helps individuals with common interests, backgrounds, and experiences to connect and support each other, promoting diversity and inclusion within the organization. Furthermore, organizations can also plan something interesting outside the work hours, such as team outings, holiday parties and wellness challenges. These opportunities allow employees to relax, socialize and build relationships beyond work-related tasks.
Develop a Diversity and Mental Health Scorecard
Leaders and managers must create a scorecard that tracks employees’ KPIs related to diversity, inclusion and psychological health. It includes representation of minority employee promotions and availability and utilization of psychological health resources.
Implement Equitable Implement Practices
Organizations must ensure that their job postings and recruitment efforts attract diverse candidates, including those with psychological health considerations. It might include using inclusive languages in the job descriptions and collaborating with organizations that connect minority professionals and individuals with psychological health challenges to job opportunities.
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Organizational leaders and managers must never overlook psychological health. However, promoting psychological health in the workplace is not a one-man job. Rather it is a responsibility shared by employers and employees. Through cultivating supportive culture, establishing work-life balance, promoting physical health, implementing supportive policies and benefits, and fostering social connections, among other approaches, organizations create an environment that prioritizes psychological well-being.