So you think yoga classes, mindfulness sessions and gym memberships are panaceas for workplace mental health issues.
They might certainly help, but the one thing that is guaranteed to have an even deeper impact is a healthy workplace culture.
A growing body of research shows that toxic workplaces are the prime drivers of employee mental health issues.
The MIT Sloan Management Review released last year said that toxic workplace culture is 10.4 times more likely than low pay to contribute to an employee quitting. The report identified three elements of a toxic culture:
Employees begin to focus on their purpose with passion which excites and propels them. On top of this, imagine if, for the first time ever, they had tangible tools to work with.
Managers are not just saying “do this” without tools, like it was in the past. Enthusiasm rises as employees are eager to make things happen with their new-found toolbox.
Here are some things that a Culture Alignment Program would address:
At the core of an individual’s values lies the connector to motivation. Many employees don’t know their values. Once they elicit and re-prioritise their values, they realise whether the role they are in is suitable and aligned.
High performers in a company are so because they have deeply aligned values within themselves, the role they are in and the organisations’ values. By the same token low performers become so as they are most often not suited to their job role.
Equip employees with self-management tools
Expecting employees to perform without giving them the tools to build rapport, resolve conflict, align their internal selves, to name a few, is unfair.
Providing them with tools is also a clear sign of respect.
Self-management tools are easy to learn and more than anything, they elevate mental states for driven and purposeful execution of roles. Employees work well and go from strength to strength as soon as they experience the swift spike to exponentially better results.
This can happen in as short a period as three months.
Improve communication and engagement in ways that actually resonate with your people
While employers shouldn’t get involved in their employees’ personal sources of distress, they have a duty to ensure that at least the workplace isn’t fuelling stress and unhappiness.
Regular check-ins and team-building events can indeed be helpful, but what many neglect is the quality of such initiatives.
Meaningless coffee sessions and workplace parties (whether remote or in-person) won’t do. A one-on-one check-in during which a supervisor only asks about work progress and deadlines won’t do either.
Instead, focus on meaningful engagement. On a day-to-day basis, are you speaking respectfully to your team – treating them as people, rather than digits? During check-ins, are you asking the right questions in terms of not just elevating your employees’ performance, but also their sense of purpose and fulfilment? Are you following these up with concrete steps to help – removing obstacles and paving the way for them to achieve what they want to achieve?
When it comes to group engagement and team-building initiatives, ask employees what they would find useful and build these sentiments into your plans and actions.
In organising events, cater to various types of individuals including introverts who may shudder at the thought of loud office parties. Practice sound DEI in whatever you do.
In short, for workplaces to be healthier, leadership needs to recognise the importance of aligning cultures and establishing holistic measures rather than deploying piecemeal band-aids.
Sylvia is a qualified Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Master Trainer. She started her business in Sydney and is now based in Singapore.