Our mental health is how we as people cope with being human. It includes everything that affects how we think, feel, and behave. It encompasses our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Our mental health directly impacts our communication, decision-making, and coping skills.
We can't ignore it.
As a business consultant and licensed clinical social worker, I have helped Fortune 500 companies and local nonprofit organizations improve workplace communication. What I've noticed time and time again is that improved mental health and employee well-being are natural byproducts of healthy workplace communication.
According to "The Surgeon General's Framework for Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being," "We can build workplaces that are engines of well-being, showing workers that they matter, that their work matters, and that they have the workplace resources and support necessary to flourish."
When your employees flourish, your business flourishes. Healthy communication is inextricably intertwined with employee well-being. When you improve one, you improve both and create a workplace culture built on trust and belonging. That supports your team's well-being and increases employee engagement, reduces absenteeism, improves productivity, and decreases the frequency and intensity of conflicts. And a stronger team translates into a stronger bottom line.
What steps can you take as a leader to create an organization that is more supportive of employee mental health?
Your organization's commitment to supporting employee mental health doesn't mean much if you and other leaders don't talk about and actively support emotional health, self-awareness, coping strategies, and healthy workplace communication. Here are four steps to make a commitment that makes a difference:
Creating a healthy work environment starts with your being a self-reflective and caring leader. Notice your own behavior and how you interact with others. Are you respectful and thoughtful when communicating with your team? How do others respond to your presence? Do they seem open or uncomfortable? How do stress and feeling overwhelmed impact how you interact with others?
Practice self-awareness. Pay attention to how you come across during difficult times and high-stakes interactions. Are you showing up and being perceived the way you want to come across?
Next, create space for people to take care of themselves. Talk about the importance of self-care, healthy communication, self-awareness, and coping strategies with your fellow leaders and your team.
Create space for people to care for one another as well. When you encourage staff to connect and communicate with each other, you build a sense of community and belonging. That creates a healthy workplace culture, improving collaboration, teamwork, and productivity.
Teach your leadership team and employees how to communicate effectively. Effective communication allows people to express themselves more comfortably. It creates psychological safety and enables your leadership team and employees to address issues and problems productively. Here are a few tips you can share with your team:
To get started, you, your leadership team, and your employees can learn to be more effective communicators, increase self-awareness, and improve coping skills. These tools will support employee mental health and well-being, strengthen decision-making skills, reduce conflicts, and improve employee engagement, retention, and productivity. Ultimately, these improvements will be reflected in an increased bottom line.
I encourage you to share this article with your organization's leaders, initiate the suggested conversations, and take action to improve your workplace culture. You can help your team become more resilient and emotionally healthy. In so doing, you will create a stronger, more productive workplace culture that will thrive even during uncertain times.
©Copyright 2022 Debra Roberts, LCSW All rights reserved. No portion of this material may be reproduced without permission from the publisher.
A version of this article was initially published on Inc.com as: 3 Steps Leaders Can Take to Build a More Resilient, Emotionally Healthy Team
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