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What Hierarchy? The Importance of a Level Playing Field at Work for Mental Health

Many workplaces have strictly ingrained hierarchies, and indeed this can make sense in certain areas where there is a need for a reporting structure, quality control, and so forth. But one area where employers should strive to have a level playing field is in the area of health and safety – particularly where mental health is concerned.

A workplace in which every staff member feels free to communicate concerns without fear of retribution helps to contribute positively to each worker’s mental health as well as to the work environment overall.

The benefits of a psychologically healthy workplace include better employee engagement, higher levels of productivity, reduced absenteeism, lower health insurance costs and even fewer workplace injuries. So what can employers do to help ensure their employees have a level playing field when it comes to matters of mental health in the workplace? The following are just a few examples of actions you can take today.

1. Policies beyond lip service.

Most employers understand that they have a moral and legal obligation to help protect their employees’ mental health. As such, they often have formal policies in place and even declarations saying that they support mental health in the workplace. These policies need to go beyond lip service however, and there should be a clear course of action when a staff member’s mental health is jeopardized.

2. Encourage employees to participate in the decision-making process

The more ownership your employees feel over your company’s mental health policies, the more they will be engaged with it and the more active they will be in helping ensure that your workplace is a psychologically healthy one. Since everyone has a unique perspective and comes with their own life experiences, the more participation you can get in developing these policies, the more fulsome they will be.

3. Make sure duties are clearly defined

Even though we want to eliminate hierarchy, it doesn’t mean that each person doesn’t have their own roles and responsibilities. Some responsibilities – such as reporting incidences of workplace bullying – might apply to everyone. Other responsibilities – such as investigating incidences or providing accommodations to employees with mental illness will likely fall to specific people within the organization.

4. Provide learning and training opportunities

By providing your employees with regular learning opportunities, it can help them recognize mental health red flags in both themselves and others. It can also provide them with strategies to help keep them mentally healthy.

5. Lead by example

Finally, you cannot expect your employees to care for their own mental health if you are not taking care of your own. You are also leading by example when you model open communication and respectful behaviour with all members of your team.

The fact is that as a leader in your company, employees will look to you for behaviour cues and often model your behaviour whether it is good or bad.

Employees who are absent from the office due to mental stress leave employers out of pocket. These costs go beyond the price to pay the employee’s salary for time to recover. Contact TeksMed today for a solution.

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