Your organisation has tasked you to roll out a mental health plan in the workplace, and you’re not sure where to start. You’ve been searching furiously on the internet, and this has resulted in more confusion. You feel like you’ve been given a mammoth task, with no end in sight. Where to even start?
Congratulations on becoming proactive and wanting to improve mental health in the workplace. Just so you know, there isn’t a magic solution to this question. It’s a process that requires patience and time! Improving mental health in the workplace can be equated to changing the culture of an organisation, where you’re asking employees to implement new behaviours and attitudes. Being aware that it’s not a quick-fix process gets your mindset ready to approach this with a different view.
How to improve mental health in the workplace begins with asking yourself these five questions:
- What’s the long-term goal? Most likely, it will be to reduce absenteeism, attract talent, maintain high-performers, and drive employee engagement, efficiency, and performance.
- What budget are you willing to allocate to a mental health plan? You’ll need to offer additional training, workshops, coaching, or other professional services that employees can access.
- Whose buy-in do you have on improving mental health in the workplace? It’s important that the executive leaders fully support the project, because they’ll be role models who’ll lead from the front. They’ll need to feel comfortable to be vulnerable to talk about their mental health, and have sufficient knowledge to support their team.
- What will progress look like? Make sure that mental health becomes strategically tangible, because you need to know how to measure change. This can be in the form of improved performance, reduced absenteeism and resignation, and increased employee engagement. You need to be clear about what these milestones are.
- Include your team from the outset, because employers and employees are required to talk and have open conversations about their needs. Don’t make assumptions about what would benefit your employees.
How to improve mental health in the workplace starts with designing a plan of what the overarching goal is. Ask yourself why you want to improve mental health, what it looks like, how employees will behave differently, and whose support you need. These are the critical foundation questions.