Happy workers are good for business. We can all agree on this, right? Regardless of whether you’re a glass or glazing company, a Fortune 500 behemoth or a small diner in the middle of nowhere, the well-being of your employees directly impacts your business.
But did you know that one in five people experience mental health problems yearly? This is according to the World Economic Forum, which sought to explain why companies should care about their employees. Mental health problems are widespread. In fact, Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2022 report found that 60% of people reported being emotionally detached at work and 19% were miserable.
In the U.S., 50% of workers reported feeling stressed at their jobs on a daily basis, 41% as being worried, 22% as sad and 18% as angry. The report indicates workers’ unhappiness stems largely from how they are coached, managed and treated. Another crucial factor is the stigma behind mental health, says Dustin Anderson, president of Anderson Glass in Waco, Texas, and co-founder of The Alone Effect Inc.
“There’s a stigma that goes along with vulnerability,” says Anderson. “You won’t get your average blue-collar workers to admit they’re struggling. It doesn’t matter if you say, ‘Hey, are you okay?’ The answer is going to be, ‘Yes.’ Even if they’re not.”
That stigma often comes from a lack of understanding or fear, reports the American Psychiatric Association. People will avoid or delay treatment because they fear losing their jobs and livelihood. A report in The Lancet found that “while the public may accept the medical or genetic nature of a mental health disorder and the need for treatment, many people still have a negative view of those with mental illness.”
That’s a problem, especially if those looking down on workers are executives, says Anderson. Executives must foster a welcoming atmosphere that embraces open dialogue, enabling employees to feel comfortable discussing problems.
“The biggest thing is knowing your employees on a level other than your basic employer/employee relationship so that you can know what’s going on with their lives,” says Anderson. “You can find out really quick when you have a conversation with an employee about their life. This includes their financial situation, time away from work and work-related stress. You have employees that take work home no matter what. They’re thinking about that installation tomorrow or being yelled at on the jobsite. Those things are all impactful. An open-door policy, and not just saying you have an open-door policy, is huge.”
Research conducted by the World Economic Forum found that if an organization actively promotes good mental health and provides support, it is more likely to benefit financially. Interventions come in various forms, including cognitive behavioral therapy. Evidence supports that involving occupational health professionals effectively reduces sick leave and encourages people to return to work after a substantial leave of absence.
One of the keys is finding the right therapist, says Anderson. The sessions don’t even have to occur in a physical location. Anderson explains that his relationship with his therapist happened remotely following a chance meeting. However, different people have different preferences. They just need to take the first step.