Looking out for the well-being of employees isn’t a new responsibility for leadership, but managers without training to do so risk doing more harm than good. Dr. Nick Taylor, CEO, and co-founder of Unmind, discusses how evidence-based mental health platforms are essential in equipping managers to support their teams.
Managers today find themselves in a tough position when it comes to supporting their employees. The very nature of their role, from team building to motivating and leading, has changed drastically this year. Combine that with the severe lack of preparedness for the new and sudden challenges that managers â€“ like everyone â€“ continue to face and we begin to notice negative impacts on business performance. Possibly the most notable of those: employee mental health.
Pandemic restrictions and the sudden surge in people working from home have completely shifted how managers interact with their teams. At the least, it’s hindered their ability to give praise in the form of a well-executed high-five or celebrate success with a team outing. What may be more damaging is that this shift has started to erode managers’ belief in their own potential â€“Â as well as that of their teams.
The data backs this up:
- A survey by Harvard Business ReviewOpens a new window found that 40% of supervisors and managers felt little confidence in their ability to manage workers remotely.
- Almost as many said they were unsure about their ability to influence remote workers to do their job well or coordinate a team of remote workers effectively.
Unfortunately, the lack of confidence among your managers doesn’t stop with them. It evolves into a lack of trust in their employees. Without trust in their teams, managers over-manage. When employees feel over-managed, their mental health suffers. Fact: That same survey from HBR reported that 49% of employees were anxious carrying out their job when experiencing high levels of close monitoring from management.
It’s apparent that the mental health issues employees are already struggling with are likely to be exacerbated when their managers are not well prepared to support them.
While it may be easy to put the blame solely on managers, that would be wrong. After all, they’re struggling too. Trying to keep your team on target and continue to be a culture leader in a remote environment is hard enough, even in the best of times. Looking out for your team’s mental health in a time of crisis makes it all that much harder.
Despite the difficulties, there’s an opportunity for employee well-being programs to support managers and their teams. You can take some of the pressure off with proper mental health training for your managers and supervisors.
5 Crucial Elements of a Workplace Mental Health Platform
It’s no surprise that the different types of available mental health training for the workplace has grown significantly in recent years. And if there’s any silver lining specifically to the challenges of 2020, it’s that companies are showing signs of responding to the need for employee mental health support â€“ and responding in a big way.
Research conductedOpens a new window this year by the Reward & Benefit Association (REBA) and Unmind revealed that 70% of organizations surveyed intend to increase investments in mental health training before Q1 of 2021.
With larger budgets and more options to explore, it’s important that business leaders are careful to identify mental health training solutions that are strongly evidence-based. Any evidence-based workplace mental health platform will embody at least the following five factors. They are crucial to ensuring the quality of any successful mental health training program:
Teaching the basic and critical skills in recognizing mental health issues is highly important, but managers and employees need the confidence to take decisive action. This could be personal intervention for a mild problem or raising awareness after noticing more acute symptoms.
2. Workplace focus
Mental health training should be contextual and applicable to day-to-day situations. Although work is a vital source of fulfillment and meaning to many employees, it can also be a key contributor to overall stress. The ability to navigate challenges at work is crucial for the well-being of employees, their colleagues, friends, and family.
3. Reasonable expectations
Managers are not mental health professionals and shouldn’t be expected to address the full spectrum of possibilities. The desired outcome for training programs should focus on increasing the mental health literacy and confidence of your managers and supporting them to know how to offer help when it’s needed.
Mental health is with us everywhere, and training needs to be accessible in any environment. Courses and resources need to be available digitally and delivered in bite-sized and consumable ways to encourage engagement. But accessibility is also about opening up training to the entire organization, not just managers. Driving real cultural change requires the entire company to benefit from training.
5. Preventative approach
Many workplace mental health training programs focus on mental health crises and acute problems â€“ bipolar, manic depression, and schizophrenia, for example. Recognizing these problems is important, of course. But a truly effective program should help managers and employees identify broader concerns. Caring for more common issues like anxiety and depression is important so you can address needs before they become more serious and have greater ramifications. Mental health training that promotes prevention, as well as care, can help to not only maintain good mental health, but help prevent the common mental health problems from arising in the first place.
Learn More: Why Are Millennials So Stressed at Work?
Mental Health Training Must Be a Company-Wide Initiative
Although it’s likely that managers will play an important leading role in your well-being strategy, mental health training needs to be a company-wide initiative.
Poor mental health in the workplace doesn’t negatively affect only those living with it. It has an impact on the experiences of everyone around them â€“ at home, at work, and on the company’s bottom line. So, when employees are empowered with a mental health platform where they can measure and manage their own mental well-being, the effectiveness is less likely to be negatively impacted by distrust between manager and employee.
With the right mental health training support, managers and employees can advocate for a culture of mental health, resulting in resilience and performance for the whole organization.
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