In this new workplace reality where we are constantly connected to a smart device, working in a never-sleeping global economy, people are valuing workplaces that create safe spaces and support their mental health more than ever. Whether you’re seeking a new job, or want to know how your current organisation measures up, here are a few key signs that your work is doing things right.
Are you and your colleagues happy to come to work?
Do you feel your contribution is valued?
Do you feel supported to do your job?
If you answered yes, then your workplace has good morale and a positive culture. This is an important contributor as low morale within a team or department can devolve into a vicious cycle of negativity and poor performance.
Attitude to overtime
Is overtime a standard expectation, or an unusual request?
Are the deadlines and amount of work delegated to you reasonable and achievable?
Do you find yourself thinking about work a lot in your downtime?
Working too much has real implications for your health and your personal life. At work it impacts productivity, workplace safety and your physical health. Yet, some of the biggest issues happen at home. A study by Cornell University shows that approximately 10% of employees who work 50 to 60 hours per week report severe work-family conflicts. The divorce rate also increases as weekly hours increase.
A mentally healthy workplace does not encourage or reward excess overtime. During busy periods some people may need to work more than a 38-hour week, but this workplace would balance this with offers of flex-time, flexible working arrangements or time-in-lieu.
How long have you been working for your company?
Do people usually stay in their jobs or with the company for an extended period of time?
If people tend to stay with an organisation then it’s an indicator that they feel valued and supported. They may also feel that the workplace understands their needs, goals and aspirations, and that these are achievable. These are all important ingredients in a mentally healthy workplace.
Does your organisation have policies, procedures and services that promote mental wellness and life balance?
Do leadership talk about mental health?
Do team members feel comfortable discussing their mental health with their managers?
Many organisations will offer some sort of Employee Assistance Program so staff members in need have access to a counselling service. But many businesses are taking this even further with new initiatives; yoga or meditation classes, flexible working hours, remote work and providing healthy food and snacks in the office.
Some of Australia’s largest employers like Optus and the Department of Education and Training are upskilling staff, particularly managers, as Mental Health First Aiders and putting into place policies, procedures and programs to support their role in the workplace. Often staff members will confide in their managers or colleagues, and this course empowers them with tools to support colleagues in a safe manner.
Assessing whether you work in a mentally healthy workplace is only part of the challenge. Leaders and team members all contribute to creating a safe, mentally healthy environment, and in the future we will unpack how you can help in your role and the resources available to you.