A lot of people spend the majority of their lives at their workplace and it can play a crucial role in the overall wellbeing of employees. while a negative work environment can lead to stress and poor performance.
A positive environment can increase productivity and engagement amongst employees and can be characterised by a safe space with a supportive and engaging team, open communication, a comfortable physical space, etc. A negative work environment on the other hand usually includes a lack of trust, high workloads with minimal support, poor team collaboration, etc.
Hence it is important for a company to address any stressors in the workplace and take necessary steps to build a positive work environment.
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5 factors within the work environment that can impact employee mental health
Several key factors can affect an employee’s mental health in the workplace. Let’s explore in some more detail.
1. Workload and demands of the role:
The demands of a job role can have a considerable impact on employee mental health. Unrealistic or high workloads, coupled with rigid deadlines can lead to burnout, stress and increased anxiety for an employee.
Employers should ensure to provide manageable workloads to their employees and foster a culture of open communication where employees feel safe to speak up if their workloads are getting out of hand. At times, workloads can increase unexpectedly and in these cases, it would be helpful for employees to have resources to manage their workloads. These resources can include tools for time and stress management, anxiety relief and flexible hours. This can help in reducing the risks of employee burnout and attrition.
2. Work-life balance:
A work environment that does not allow sufficient work life balance for employees can result in negative consequences. If employees are not able to switch off from work and take time to relax their mind, it can quickly drain their energy and lead to low productivity and poor performance at work.
Employers can offer benefits such as remote working, flexible schedules and options to take breaks to recharge when needed. Company leaders can also help by setting an example by taking breaks and leaves when needed instead of overworking. This makes employees feel safe and comfortable to do the same. These simple steps can help improve work life balance for employees.
3. Open communication
A workplace that does not allow employees to speak up openly or provide feedback can feel very restrictive and can make employees feel like they don’t have any control at work. Employees need to feel supported and heard in their workplace. Fostering a culture with open communication contributes to the psychological safety of a work environment and makes employees feel safe to share their ideas and struggles they might be having with work. According to the All worked up report mentioned above, 5 out of 10 of the employees who stated that their employers weren’t aware of their depression also screened positive for depression. Hence it’s important to foster psychological safety in the workplace.
Employers can encourage open communication by asking for feedback and also offering constructive criticism that can help employees learn and grow. Additionally, transparency in the workplace, especially from the top management, can also contribute to open communication.
4. Work relationships
A good relationship with your colleagues, managers and other team members can have a positive impact on employee mental health as well as productivity. However, a negative relationship with colleagues can create conflicts and can lead to a very hostile working environment. Negative work relationships can also be in the form of bullying and harassment, which can also lead to some serious mental health concerns.
Any form of harassment needs to be addressed and dealt with immediately. Employers should strive to create a work environment where everyone can be treated with respect and feel valued. Positive work relationships can be encouraged by increasing opportunities for team collaborations, employee recognition and rewards, and also by setting up social events.
5. Physical work environment:
The physical work environment can play a significant role in employee mental health. A poorly designed workplace can include factors such as loud noise, lack of privacy and comfort, and ergonomic issues. These factors don’t allow employees to work efficiently which can increase stress and lower productivity.
Employers can take measures to improve the physical workplace environment so that employees can work more comfortably. These measures include ergonomic workstations, adequate lighting and quiet spaces for meetings and focus work which can help employees improve work performance and work effectiveness.
Companies have the responsibility to foster a positive work culture and environment for their employees not only for the benefit of their employees but also the organisation. By taking steps to improve employee mental health and wellbeing, companies are in turn, improving employee productivity and performance which ultimately benefits and contributes to the success of the company. Taking steps to understand what impacts employee mental health and what actions can be taken to positively improve the work environment leads to a positive company culture where employees can thrive.