The role of a leader in securing mental wellness at work

The role of a leader in securing mental wellness at workEmployee Engagement in 2023 Gallup study

Leaders and HR professionals have a pivotal role in shaping work environments to enhance their teams' mental wellness. Recently several reports have highlighted their significant impact on employee mental wellness.

Whether in-person, hybrid, or remote settings, you as a leader profoundly influence how workplace mental health is experienced.

Is your approach here reactive or proactive?

Shifting from a deteriorating work-related mental health landscape to a thriving work culture demands that you, as a leader or HR professional, proactively seek clarity on how to effectively nurture employees' mental well-being.

There exists a compelling economic rationale for undertaking this endeavor as the Deloitte UK report ‘Mental health and employers. The case for investment – pandemic and beyond', from March 2022, pointed out that the annual unacknowledged mental health cost per employee is between £1035 ($1345 or 1150€) and £3,710 ($4820 or 4,120€). The more top experts you have, the higher is here your loss.

This is all while the same report also hints that workplacewide proactive investment to mental wellness offers tenfold returns (ROI is 9,7 to 10,8).

At Wellness Orbit, a standout approach is based on allowing people to obtain good intrapersonal skills and it involves training both leader and employee mind health. Our approach is systematic, efficient and proactive in nature.

Besides preventing problems intrapersonal skills boost employee engagement, productivity and interpersonal relations.

This matters, as employees who aren't engaged or are actively disengaged cost the world $7.8 trillion in lost productivity, according to Gallup's 2022 data.

What is a leader's role in securing workplace mental wellness?

According to Gallup, "when employees strongly agree that the leadership of their organization communicates effectively with the rest of the organization, they are 73% less likely to feel burned out at work." But the key factor besides effective communication is understanding how people operate within their own inner domain. 

HR professionals and leaders' core duty in supporting workplace mental wellness is to foster the wide use of awareness-based intrapersonal skills as those don't depend on apps or situations.

Inner skills for self-leadership support more than solving challenges, those permit reducing stress, avoiding burnout, preventing depression and allowing reduction of anxiousness that in the long run can lead to serious anxiety disorders.

You, as a leader, should abstain from therapeutic roles and refrain from diagnosing or treating mental health issues. Instead, your primary focus should be on understanding individual challenges and noticing the warning signed as early as possible. For this providing mind health trainings for all and cultivating an environment that nurtures team members' mental well-being is beneficial.

Establishing a safe work environment that supports personal sustainability

You, as a leader who cares, have the power to cultivate wellness wellness-centric and open-minded work culture where people dare to speak up and take moments for aware listening as explained by Dr. Helena Lass in UK HR Magazine.

Cultivating mind health training is similar to training your physical body, it demands a systematic approach. Knowing how to keep your mind sharp, fit and well is the key to securing psychological safety.

When you understand your inner domain better, dealing with mental health challenges becomes easier.

When HR officers and employees in the U.S. were asked in 2023 to rate their mental health the results painted a mixed picture. Among HR professionals 44%, and among chief HR officers (CHROs) 45%, reported a negative or somewhat negative impact on their mental health, while respectively 40% and 32% found their job’s effect on mental health positive or somewhat positive.

It shows leadership roles aren't that easy. When the same question was posed to a the U.S. workforce just 40% reported that their job had a negative or somewhat negative impact on their mental health. On the other hand, only 30% of employees found the influence on their mental health to be positive or somewhat positive (see the graph below).

Over the last six months, what type of impact have your employees' jobs had on their mental health?

What is clear here is, there is a lot of room for improving mental wellness and employee engagement. The world average active engagement level is just 23%.

Besides systematic mental wellness training, successful strategies here include modeling pro-mental wellness behaviors, sharing personal experiences, and promoting awareness about available resources.

Remember, personal sustainability is an ongoing process. Just like you don't go to the gym once, you need to train your mind systematically and use the learned intrapersonal skills for your benefit in your daily life and work situations.

This truly matters as our schools have lacked and still lack intrapersonal education.

Cultivate a mentally healthy work experience

Unhealthy work cultures centered around excessive stress can significantly undermine mental health.

Too often positive stress in our society is glorified and this drives employees and leaders to burnout and from there on to more serious mental health issues like depression and anxiety. No wonder, that 4 out of 10 employees burn out as 9 out of 10 employees are stressed.

While in the short run impact of positive stress seems great for your business, in the long run, it leads to a great resignation trend.

Employees, seeking a more sustainable work-life integration and improved well-being, are increasingly opting out of environments that prioritize relentless stress over genuine support and mental wellness.

Wellness Orbit stress survey provides immediate feedback for each individual

What we've observed is that in the survey conducted before our stress and burnout e-training "Performing Under Pressure", individuals tend to rate their situations more positively than after the training.

Awareness is essential; you can only notice what you're aware of.

Many individuals overlook chronic stress and various stages of burnout due to a lack of information about the warning signs they should be vigilant for.

You have the power to enhance those aspects within your own mind that you acknowledge.

Only when workplaces start to fully recognize the lasting impact of nurturing the mental wellness of their staff, they become better positioned to cultivate loyalty, engagement and long-term success.

To secure this, schedule regular check-ins adapting to individual needs and fostering autonomy and balance. Note that allowing everyone to evaluate your mental wellness situation, as all Wellness Orbit mental wellness online trainings do allow every person to measure, comes here in handy.

Engage in mental health conversations with empathy

When your team member shares his or her very personal mental health challenges, leaders should prioritize active listening and validation. Only when you understand their actual challenges, you can offer adaptations to work circumstances, support mind health training and lead them to seek psychological counseling and therapy or even psychiatric help.

Always remember your non-therapeutic role, listen, understand and help people to seek help ASAP. All work-related mental health conditions are both preventable and treatable.

Be open, foster collaboration

Observing team challenges and trends helps leaders adapt and maintain a positive team culture.

Your task as a leader is to stay true to your company vision and promote taking opportunities. According to Gallup "When employees strongly agree that they trust the leadership of their organization, they are 4x as likely to be engaged".

Your task is never to get stuck in a problem, always see challenges as possibilities and focus on solutions.

Only when your own mind is well, can you be a visionary leader.

As advocates for mental wellness and mental sharpness, all leaders can benefit when their employees take proactive mental wellness training that has the power to lower stress levels and improve employee engagement simultaneously. Such e-trainings exist on this website.

Both you and your employees win from better self-leadership skills. Wellness Orbit provides here fairly priced and easy-to-use comprehensive learning opportunities in a digital format. 

Conclusion - Learning through mental wellness online training is the solution

In this pursuit of a mentally healthy workplace, leaders fulfill a transformative role. Properly equipped with practical knowledge based on intrapersonal skills, they can build confidence and clarity for their teams.

When you train yourself first, you notice the potential that others can naturally have when their self-leadership and individual responsibility improve. Adapting to ever-evolving circumstances with a calm mind is something that consistently contributes to a positive work environment and getting things done creatively.

This blog post is written by our leader and mental wellness advocate Kaur Lass