May is Mental Health Awareness Month! This is a nationally recognized awareness month with the goal of #stoppingstigma around mental health issues and improving as many environments as possible with mental health positive approaches. The workplace is no exception.
1 in 5 adults live with a mental illness. Take a second and think about how the work environment is a crucial factor in successful employees, successful owners/management, and a successful business. Mental Health isn't terminology related to just individuals with mental illness; mental health is something that all of us have and should be paying attention to personally, and in our small (and large) businesses. American Adults (64%) cited work as a primary source of stress in a study collected by the APA (American Psychological Association) in 2019. You could be the employer/manager to shift that - at least at your company, and become a place folks look forward to coming each day.
Here are a few experiences reported by the sample of American Adult workers in 2019 and why you should care about their mental health and the work environment you create for them.
Dissatisfied- Many of the employees interviewed stated that they felt they weren't doing the job listed in the job description, or doing much more than listed. Salary also plays a role here as well. Something as simple as an employee suggestion box goes a long way. Or quarterly raises, after a year, or perfect attendance for a year, etc. It also helps to have an inviting environment. I understand that if your company is farm fresh produce, you have little control over the physical environment. However, you have total control over how your employees feel when they leave for the day. Were you there to personally say "thanks" as they leave the building, or when they get in their car to leave? Those things matter in satisfaction.
Disconnected- Employees leave jobs at higher rates when they feel disconnected from their co-workers, their "boss" and the mission of the company. It doesn’t mean you have to invite your whole company over for a pool party and cookout (although that's a great gesture). But, perhaps a monthly recognition program, quarterly lunch meeting or fun incentives for team work initiatives. Even a random team contact info exchange (everyone gets a co-workers contact info) and a collective end goal, like... a scavenger hunt around town. It's your job to be creative and bridge the connection gap.
Unappreciated- When employees feel unappreciated, they look for other jobs, slack up on production and provide "unappreciated" service. Unless you're a Fortune 500 business, I'm not sure any of us can afford to have an employee who doesn't feel appreciated (even Fortune 500 companies can't afford it... just saying). Take a moment and reflect on how you show your employees they matter. Gestures like being present during work hours, being on the floor or in the field, or at the construction site, or at the first party they host alone, all make huge impacts in how appreciated the employee feels. Even personally bringing in goodies for your staff, and pulling them aside individually, all do so much for company morale.