The Link Between Employee Engagement and Mental Health

The Link Between Employee Engagement and Mental Health

As WHO mentions, 15% of working-age adults were estimated to have mental health issues in 2019. What does that mean for businesses? The same report mentions that an estimated 12 billion workdays are lost every year due to mental health issues among employees, which can result in a US$1 trillion loss per year in productivity.

Not just business losses, mental health issues can significantly impact the employee's engagement at the workplace. In this article, we will delve into depth to understand how employee engagement and mental health are interlinked and what organizations can do to improve their workplace well-being. 

How mental health impacts employee satisfaction

Before we begin to answer this question, let us understand what employee satisfaction is. Compared to the popular notion, employee satisfaction doesn't always mean happy and smiling employees. 

An engaged employee is a person who is emotionally invested in their workplace — who cares about the work they do and is committed to the organization's goal.

Engaged employees take pride in their work, which translates into higher productivity, satisfied customers, higher sales, and better revenue. Organizations that have highly engaged employees see less absenteeism and increased productivity with low turnover rates and better customer ratings. 

The mental well-being of an employee has a direct link with employee satisfaction. An employee, when struggling with their mental health, often feels depressed, anxious, disengaged, and unmotivated towards their work. 

While these are just a few signs, there could be many more signs of an unsatisfied employee. So, managers and supervisors need to know their team well and identify employees struggling with mental health issues. 

Signs to look for

  • Distracted
  • Abestiseem
  • Withdrawn
  • Uncommunicative
  • Emotionally volatile
  • Depressed
  • Disengaged
  • Unmotivated

Prioritizing mental health at the workplace

Supporting mental health at the workplace can help employees deal with stress, burnout, depression, and anxiety. As Nectar HR survey reports, 77.9% of employees mentioned they would feel more productive when they were recognized for their work. 

On the other hand, an employee may feel disengaged and unproductive when their efforts are not recognized, deprived of professional growth opportunities, and receive dwindling benefits.

Driving engagement by improving mental health

While each organization is different, and their approach to mental health might be different too, here are a few ways to promote mental health at the workplace that can help improve employee engagement. 

Promote work-life balance

The leadership team should prioritize work-life balance by empowering their people to set boundaries when they can unwind from work. Employees shouldn't be pressured to be available 24/7. Communicate clearly about the expectations when they can unplug. Encourage them to take time off when needed.

Destigmatize mental health

Many people still shy away from talking about their mental health openly because of the stigma attached to it. As HBR mentions, 60% of employees have never talked about their mental health at their workplace. 

Leadership should change this stigma by leading by example. They can talk about their personal experience of managing mental health while HR can organize various open forums and awareness sessions to destigmatize mental health in the workplace. 

Recognize and value your people

As a Gallup report mentions, employees who regularly get recognized for their work and are valued by their managers are 20 times more likely to be engaged in the workplace as compared to their peers who are poorly recognized. 

Managers should make it a point to reward and recognize their employees promptly. Appreciate a job well done during team meetings, encourage a culture of peer recognition, offer reimbursement for educational and professional achievements, and be genuinely invested in bettering the lives of the employees.

Help employee manage their mental health

Teaching employees to identify their mental health conditions and how to manage them ensures that employees have the resources available to take care of their mental health on a day-to-day basis. Design wellness programs that cater to the needs of the employees and evaluate them from time to time to ensure that the programs are effective. 

Build an inclusive culture

If you’re hiring folks from all walks of life, build an inclusive culture that eliminates all kinds of unconscious biases. Train the managers around unconscious biases and prejudice and how to deal with mental health issues. Spreading awareness, building engagement activities, open communications, and regular surveys can help you build an inclusive work culture where people feel safe and engaged. 

Build trust

Trust helps to drive engagement. Make your employees feel safe and comfortable at their workplace. Train managers to avoid micromanaging and the negative impacts of micromanaging. Instead, empower your employees to work independently. Offer tools and resources that encourage autonomy and networking. 

Offer mental health days

Everyone feels different. A situation that may appear normal to you might trigger a colleague. If you want to support the mental well-being of your employees, offer them mental health days when they can take off and relax. Offering mental health days is as important as offering sick leaves and conveys a positive message to your employees.

The key takeaway

Employee engagement is not just about celebrating employee birthdays and conducting fun activities. Employee engagement truly means an invested employee who cares about the job they do. 

Employees who are undergoing mental health issues might not be engaged at their workplace, which can impact the productivity, work culture, and revenue of the company. 

So organizations should adopt a holistic approach to build a workplace where the mental health of the employees is taken care of, and they feel engaged.