A company’s leaders serve as models who set a precedent for how employees should behave in the workplace. If you are a leader seeking to create a company culture that is healthy and engaged, here are some actions we know work.
Create a culture of open communication. Speak openly about mental health, stress, and engagement in your communication to staff. Speaking openly in this way communicates that you value and understand that how your staff feels, thinks, concentrates, and is present is as important as profit. Speaking openly with your managers about this topic models for them how they can speak to their staff. Consider sharing about your personal mental health experiences. Sharing openly and honestly is a sign of strength in leadership, not a sign of weakness.
Check in and respond – regularly. Create a culture where managers check in regularly on their staff and identify strategies to support and encourage rather than respond punitively. Regular check-ins that include support will help increase communication between staff so that when difficult times come up, communication is not an additional barrier to seeking support and solutions.
Evaluate stress, burnout, and mental health in annual surveys. Employees have more pride in their company when they feel supported, and the easiest way to understand how you can support your employees is to ask. In the company’s annual survey, ask questions exploring your employees’ perceptions of stress, burnout, and mental health support to understand how leadership can make positive changes in company supports.
Develop and support a mental health employee resource group. A strong employee resources group should be given the following supports and abilities:
- An annual budget to covers the costs associated with improving mental health of the company beyond benefits and the EAP;
- Clear expectations and ability to allocate specific number of work hours to attend to new work developed through the team’s responsibilities;
- The ability and process by which the group can provide feedback to upper management about findings or suggestions; and
- Follow-up from management about changes that can or will be made based on feedback from the team.