"Companies that embrace diversity and inclusion in all aspects of their business statistically outperform their peers." - Josh Bersin.
Modern time demands diversity and inclusion to remain central to what an organisation does. The world knows creating a supportive and inclusive work environment starts from the top. But most importantly, the process begins with an in-depth understanding of the importance of employee well-being.
A Forbes article says, “Mental health and diversity and inclusion (D&I) are closely connected.” Therefore, fostering an inclusive and supportive work environment is crucial to ensure the good mental health of your people. So, let’s get into further details and unveil what can be done to support employees.
Link Between Inclusion & Mental Well-being
Inclusion and mental well-being are strongly linked, and promoting inclusion can have a positive impact on individuals' mental health.
Inclusive workplaces promote higher employee well-being.
Employees with good mental health are more inclusive.
Inclusive workplaces enable connection with others.
Inclusive workplaces support work-life balance.
Inclusive workplaces support a positive self-image.
Well-planned mental well-being initiatives recognise diversity in the needs of employees.
Diversity and inclusion programs recognise mental health and well-being as diversity issues.
Mental Health & Inclusion: How Can Companies Build a Supportive Environment for Workforce
#1. Understand Mental Health
The first step toward creating an organisational culture that supports employees’ mental health is overcoming the stigma. People often don’t discuss their mental health as freely as they discuss other ailments.
Organisational leaders have the power to break the stigma. To ease the process, the primary focus is to understand the term mental health and the issues that lead to disturbed mental states. It can begin with reading scholarly articles, surfing online resources, and talking to mental health counselors.
#2. Increase Awareness
If you have people shying away from talking about their mental issues, trust us, you don’t have a healthy organisational culture. The need is to educate the workforce and help them manage their mental well-being without fearing ridicule.
Hiring managers and managers must be trained to handle sensitive issues. The next duty is to direct employees to the best resources to help them fight mental health concerns. Therefore, offering solid training to the leaders on inclusion is crucial.
#3. Recognise the Needs of Different Employees
Devising a well-being program isn’t enough if it lacks accessibility. The focus must be on language, literacy, religion, culture, age, and health status. Additionally, consider the presence of diverse talent within the organisation before designing a well-being program. This will help you in making it accessible to all employees.
A well-devised program helps in promoting inclusion and a healthy organisational culture.
#4. Evaluate the current situation
Keep a check on the current situation and identify the areas that need improvement. Then, at the next stage, create an action plan and measure the progress.
The best way to understand the state of employees’ well-being and satisfaction is by conducting company-wide engagement surveys. This will help you strategise and identify appropriate actions to build a happier, healthier, and more productive workforce.
#5. Track Engagement
Continuously monitor your organisational culture and gather insights on employee mood, morale, and engagement. For better results, conduct a survey and measure aspects such as the kind of employee energy inside the company, employee engagement level, mood and morale of employees, and changes in company culture.
The benefit of tracking engagement is developing an environment focused on employee well-being and mental health.
#6. Reduce Work Stress
Employees who are distracted by another taxing task or carry a huge workload tend to feel depressed. Oppositely, people with low work stress can deliver higher levels of productivity. But unfortunately, today’s workforce sees a workplace as a source of anxiety and stress.
The aim should be to reduce the workload levels and promote inclusion to protect employees' self-esteem and self-worth.
#7. Make Language Adjustments
The choice of words can soothe or trigger a situation. In other words, your chosen words can build a stigma around mental health or break it up. The crux is to make use of inclusive language. There are a few changes you can make to your language.
Use person-first language so the person is not defined by their mental state.
Refrain from using inappropriate language.
Avoid using certain words that can hurt someone deeply.
Be supportive and empathise.
If a company fails to prevent its employees’ mental health from deteriorating, it can have serious consequences. And these after-effects will impact both individuals and the organisation as a whole. The worse that can follow is poor physical health and a sharp decline in their performance and productivity.
In the words of Howard Schultz, former CEO of Starbucks, “A company’s most valuable asset is its people. When we take care of our employees, they take care of our customers, and that leads to growth and success.”
An undeniable statement, indeed, that empowers you to start your journey of creating a supportive and inclusive work environment.
1. How do you create a positive mental health environment?
Creating a positive mental health environment is not a single person’s task, but it takes a lot of effort. Here are a few tips to help foster an environment supporting mental health.
Train supervisors and managers.
Introduce support-focused performance management.
Ensure the availability of resources to the team.
Have open and human-centric conversations with the team.
Offer learning opportunities to shape the employee experience.
Practice and model good boundaries.
2. How can I be inclusive of mental health?
To be inclusive in mental health, you must:
Always keep in mind that an employee is a person first.
Check-in with your employee timely.
Show them that you care and understand.
Have regular conversations with the employees about mental health.
Convey a message of diversity and inclusion.
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