Leaders set the pace and tone for the organizations that they lead in many different ways. Your example creates a culture. Our habits, patterns, and actions permeate throughout our group. Leaders who are in the habit of being generous will generally end up building exceptionally generous organizations. But leaders who work long hours themselves create a culture glorifying the work of brutally long hours. Leaders who are hard on their subordinates will often create middle managers who are even harder on their subordinates. Encouraging positive mental health isn’t the same as discouraging hard work. Instead, good mental health will increase the resilience of your workforce.
Because the leader’s example is magnified throughout the organization, managers must take the time to determine which of their habits and patterns they are passing on to their subordinates. Ultimately, leaders’ actions will become the company culture – or at least the group culture – whether intended or not. Therefore, it is essential to evaluate the type of culture you are creating by your example.
Good mental health is an often overlooked but extremely critical component of good leadership. Mental health is the chief cause of long term sickness, absence, and work incapacity. To create a better environment for employees, managers need to show a high level of commitment to favorable working conditions. Leaders who are stressed out, frazzled, and overwhelmed will often end up pouring out their frustrations on subordinates, who will, in turn, pour out their frustrations on their subordinates, or even worse, customers or clients. How the higher-ups treat their subordinates is eventually how customers and clients will end up being treated. Also, stressed-out leaders will incidentally create high-stress environments, which makes it difficult for employees and subordinates to do their best work.
The National Institute of Health showed that manager support was an essential factor in employees’ mental health. In that study, employees’ mental health was higher when the manager was supportive and encouraging. A less supportive, critical, and distant manager caused more mental health problems for employees. The study asked how often the employee’s supervisor:
“… shows that they appreciate the way I do my job.”
“… pays attention to my feelings and problems, and notices if I’m not feeling well.”
“… is considerate when managing team members.”
“… gives me advice on how to handle things if necessary.”
“… helps me with a certain task if necessary.”
“… would be someone I would speak to if I were experiencing workplace stress.”
“… is accessible and approachable to people in the team.”
“… involves me in decision-making.”
“… remains objective when an issue between staff members arise.”
Employees are more satisfied and productive when they are healthy and engaged. It’s essential that managers speak about mental health, create opportunities for employees to destress, and create a safe working environment. The most important thing is that leaders be an excellent example of mental health. Modeling a good example is more critical than platitudes. This means not sending emails after hours or during vacations.
Leaders are also called upon to make dozens, if not hundreds of decisions every day, some of which can impact the entire trajectory of a company. Being in a chronically stressed out, frazzled or overwhelmed state of mind is not a reasonable basis for excellent decision making. Leaders who take the time to care for their mental health and wellbeing place themselves in a much better position to make more precise decisions, even in the most high-pressure situations. Better, clearer decision making will almost always result in better outcomes, which will build a better, more reliable business.
Studies show that workers that are in a good state of well-being are most commonly the employees that have a greater job performance. The impact wellness has on a person’s mental capabilities, motivation, and overall health is clear.
At UC Davis, we are taught that the supervisor is the link between management and the workforce. What is communicated establishes culture. Choosing to communicate well-being encourages a culture of well-being.
The role of the manager in the well-being of the employees is very important. As a manager, it is your responsibility to be the kind of person the employees are going to look up to. For example, if you are managing a specific department in business then, that means you are the most experience perhaps, the oldest in the business doing that particular profession.
Just about anybody can have healthy behaviors for a few days or weeks. The key is to maintain healthy behaviors for years. As soon as you stop having healthy behaviors you stop getting the benefits.
The recipe is simple, for a thriving business, you need thriving employees.
Practice self-care. Stress is one of the biggest factors of employee health. It’s crucial that managers lead by example to help employees manage and reduce their stress levels.
Managers have the power to create a healthier workplace. This is because they have the opportunity to lead their employees by example.
Success in business happens because of successful employees. It’s important to focus directly on managers as a lever of engagement to recruit, retain, and inspire the greatest asset to your company: employees.
Managers need to lead by example. So they must demonstrate good mental well being so that their subordinates will too.
Fostering mental health working conditions begins with looking at how the workplace culture and work organization impact all employees’ well-being.
I would love us to get to a position where we can talk candidly about our mental health as we do about our physical health. Mental health should be the foundation of any public health initiative. We require an anti-stigma campaign. We need a message about mental health at business, which is available to all workers and management, so they understand where to go if they need guidance and care. Training of front-line supervisors and scaling up practices would be an excellent place to begin.
Mental health at work should be everyone’s concern: there is no “them and us” – because we all have mental health, and it should be treated as an asset and protected in our workplaces.
The most powerful but also the complicated difficulty is the shame surrounding mental health in society. Stigma leads to prejudice and adverse reactions. Self-stigma is very popular and stops people from seeking advice or speaking openly about the challenges they face. Although battling stigma will demand awareness-raising throughout society, managers can participate by building a culture of openness around mental health, which should not be a taboo but a standard.