How to Manage Employees Without Harming Their Mental Health

manger giving instructions kindly to employee

We have all been stressed at work at one time or another. If you are someone who manages direct reports or a team, it is important to be cognizant of their emotional well-being while still ensuring they perform well in their role.

Whether an employee has a diagnosed mental health issue or not, it is necessary to support their mental health by promoting a supportive and inclusive environment. A healthy work environment can be great for mental health, however, a poor work environment can perpetuate existing anxiety or create unnecessary stress. It can even cause depression or burnout.

Let’s take a look at ways you can support your team while creating a healthy work environment and still effectively managing their performance.

Create Space For Dialogue

It is important that your team feels comfortable approaching you about their feelings. Start a conversation, and set the tone that you truly have an open door policy. Encourage employees to come to you when they need help or have problems. Whether they are feeling stressed about a project, or something personal is happening at home, it is important your team finds you approachable and sees you as someone they can lean on in times of stress.

If someone on your team suffers from a mental health disorder, it is integral that you create an environment where they feel comfortable sharing and not in any way stigmatized. Creating regular check-ins can help both the employee and manager feel they are clear on expectations not just from a work perspective, but from a mental health perspective as well.

Set Realistic and Attainable Goals

While it is important to stay attuned to our employee’s mental health, as leaders we still have a job to do — and expectations need to be met. Often, unrealistic goals and deadlines can be a big source of stress and anxiety for employees. According to the Wall Street Journal, goals should be challenging, yet achievable. Set realistic deadlines and check in with your team to see what timeline they think is fair.

Understand Your Company’s Mental Health Offerings

There are some instances where an employee is really struggling and does not feel comfortable sharing with you, or the subject matter is sensitive. This is an instance where an Employee Assistance Program or EAP would be helpful. EAPs traditionally have assisted workers with issues like alcohol or substance abuse; however, most now cover a broad range of issues such as child or elder care, relationship challenges, financial or legal problems, wellness matters and traumatic events like workplace violence. Providing employees resources beyond HR can allow them an outlet for personal issues which in turn, makes them more present at work. Resources that show employees you value them as people, allows them to be their best and more productive selves. If you’re looking for a new resource to help those you manage, discover how Talkspace has increased productivity at work by 36%.

It is important to understand what your company offers and that you communicate these offerings to those you manage, so that they are aware of the services and how to take advantage of them.

Lead By Example

One of the best ways to promote a robust and open culture around mental health within your team is to lead by example. By creating a supportive, inclusive, and patient environment your team will feel compelled to share with you and with each other. It is also important to encourage your team to take time off and unplug. The best way to do this is to practice what you preach! You need to ensure you are also taking care of your mental health in order to take care of your team! Be mindful of when you are sending emails out to your team — if sending at midnight, your team is going to guess at what your expectations are for a reply, thus creating more stress. Best to simply establish what the expectations are around working hours and availability.

If you work hard to support your own mental health as well as your team’s mental health, you will have a more productive and happy environment. As long as you create the space for an open dialogue and communication, you will find a healthier and more engaged team. And that’s good for everyone’s mental health — and productivity!

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