Recent studies show that managers impact employee mental health 69 percent more than therapists (41%) or doctors (51%).
A study conducted by the World Health Organization supports these findings, showing poor management practices can have a significant impact on employee mental health. Specifically, managers who engage in behaviors such as micromanaging, being overly critical and failing to provide support can lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety among employees.
Director of Better Being Greg Stark has seen first-hand the impact of stress on employees.
“Oftentimes, stress is demonized within a workplace setting, but understanding the sources of stress builds resilience and provides employees with a sense of autonomy,” Stark says. “Stress can also be the magic ingredient in creating motivation, productivity and performance.”
The role of managers supporting the mental health of their teams has become increasingly important.
With psychosocial safety on nearly every organization’s agenda, the role of managers in supporting the mental health of their teams has become increasingly important in order to create safe workplaces.
Business leaders and managers face additional pressures and responsibilities in the workplace, and many attempt to protect their team members from these stressors by taking on extra work and working longer hours. Ultimately, this impacts their ability to manage their stress and inadvertently impacts the people around them.
According to the Workforce Institute, 43 percent of employees report being exhausted and 78 percent say stress negatively impacts their work performance.
Studies show that supportive managers are associated with positive effects on employee job satisfaction, physical health and workplace productivity.
Comparatively, businesses that prioritize mental health reap the benefits. Studies show that supportive managers are associated with positive effects on employee job satisfaction, physical health and workplace productivity.
“Providing organizations and their teams with the tools to create a mentally healthy work environment is one of the best things any organization can do to foster connection, cohesion and performance in the workplace,” Stark says.
What can managers do to have a positive impact on employees’ mental health?
1. Set an example
Employees observe how others manage their workload, respond to difficult situations and model their behaviors on this.
Upskill your team, delegate responsibility and ensure there is a focus on teamwork. Avoid overloading yourself and say no to too much work for your team. Be aware of resources available in your workplace, such as employee assistance programs, and remind your team they have access to them in team meetings.
2. Acknowledge your influence
Recognizing and acknowledging the impact you have on your team is vital. Emphasize empathy, which has positive effects on employee innovation, engagement and retention. Prioritize open communication and cultivate an environment in which your employees feel comfortable coming to you for support.
These practices not only create psychologically safe workplaces, but they also empower employees to overcome challenges and thrive.
3. Prioritize your own wellbeing
Some 35 percent of leaders in the Workforce Institute study reported feeling stressed at work, and 42 percent felt it was due to the stress they put on themselves. Looking after your mental and physical wellbeing is vital to ensuring your ongoing performance.
Take your annual leave and schedule time in your diary during the week and on weekends, like you would a meeting, to rest and recover.
Lauren Parchi is the Marketing and Communications Lead for Better Being, Australia’s leading corporate wellbeing provider, dedicated to helping people create a healthier and happier work and life. Parchi has also completed a Bachelor of Health Science (Nutritional Medicine) and inherently cares about the wellbeing of others. In her work at Better Being, she consults and delivers corporate wellbeing programs for large, multinational organizations on a regular basis.