Four things businesses can do to create and sustain a mentally healthy workplace

22 August 2018

In 2017, we surveyed over 5,000 workers across Australia to determine the current state of mental health and wellbeing in their workplace, against 38 desired state indicators.

The Indicators of a Thriving Workplace Report found that one in three workers believed that the reason their employer is not taking action to promote mental health and wellbeing in the workplace is because they don’t know where to begin.

Further, the most successful workplaces invest in mental health and wellbeing training, wellbeing policies, managerial training, and aligning mental health best practice with people management practices.

For businesses looking to support the mental health and wellbeing of their staff, leadership is key. The behaviours of managers and senior leaders are directly related to happy, successful and effective teams and individuals – and the story doesn’t end there.

Leadership practices which encourage a positive emotional climate also tend to boost company performance, including revenue. As Virgin Group founder Richard Branson once said, “Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your business.” Clearly, fostering mental health is a good business decision.

When creating and sustaining a mentally healthy workplace, Indicators of a Thriving Workplace research indicates that employers will have most success by concentrating on the following four factors:


1. Managers are committed to promoting the mental health and wellbeing of their staff

It is important that leaders across all levels of the organisation are committed to creating a thriving workplace for that change to be effective.

Allocating budget and resources towards activities that promote mental health and wellbeing, leading by example, and creating a clear message that the organisation values the mental wellbeing of their employees as much as the productivity of the organisation, are key ways that leaders can show their commitment to employees.


2. People in the organisation are supported through change

Organisational change is often identified as having negative, and in some cases, significant impacts on the mental health and wellbeing of staff.

Change can occur through the modification of daily practices, like the use of technology, or one-off changes to team or organisational restructures. It is important for managers to consider how these changes may be affecting the wellbeing of their workers and what can be done to manage or mitigate stress and anxiety.

Strategies to do this can include having transparent and timely communication about the changes that are occurring and, where appropriate, including staff in the decision-making process.


3. The workplace culture encourages open discussion about mental health issues

Encouraging respectful open discussion about issues that affect mental health and wellbeing can increase the health literacy of the workplace and reduce stigma.Creating a safe space where employees can discuss work-related and non-work-related issues which maybe impacting their mental wellbeing will create a supportive environment where they can bring their best selves to work.


4. Managers set a good example for a healthy, happy and productive workplace

Leaders who lead by example can help create and sustain a mentally healthy workplace. Leading by example can include modelling appropriate behavior like work-life integration, participating in activities which promote the wellbeing of staff, or openly discussing issues that affect mental health and wellbeing and work performance.


To download a copy of the report, please click here.


This article was featured in our monthly e-Newsletter SuperFriend News which provides practical advice for employers to in creating positive, cohesive and productive environments for all employees.