Wellbeing in the workplace is more important now than it’s ever been before. But it’s not just physical wellbeing of employees that’s being highlighted as advantageous for businesses. It’s employee mental wellbeing too.

According to beyond blue, almost 3 million Australians currently suffer with anxiety and depression. Mental health issues don’t discriminate and can affect anyone at any time.

So, how do you ensure that your workplace is supporting employees who are suffering? What sort of things should you implement in the workplace that promote mental wellbeing?

Have an open-door policy

It’s not always easy for people struggling with mental health issues to open up and talk.

However, implementing an open-door policy where your employees can talk to their managers at any time is a good start.

If employees feel that a manager is accessible, whether their issues are personal or work related, it can help alleviate any stress or anxiety that they’re feeling.

If the issues are work related, you can implement strategies to help relieve their workload or discuss ways to work around the problems. If the issues are personal, you can refer them to an employee assistance program (if you have such a thing), or a suitably qualified staff member.

Enforcing work breaks

In the midst of busy periods or a particularly busy role, it’s easy for employees to work through their lunch, shoveling in their sandwich at their desk or forgetting to eat at all.

In a study conducted by beyond blue, it was found that 3.8 million Australians don’t take a lunch break. Of those that do, 72 per cent said they either cut it short, or postpone until mid-afternoon. This habit is unhealthy for the body and the mind.

To encourage work breaks, set up a regular weekly team lunch or a daily break time in a space where everyone can have a coffee and chat. Even ten minutes away from the desk can leave people feeling mentally refreshed.

Encourage exercise

Many studies have shown the benefits of exercise on depression and anxiety. Therefore, offering exercise related perks as part of an employee’s package is ideal.

Offering gym memberships, discounts to health centres or group participation in sporting events is a good motivator for people to become fitter and healthier in both body and mind.  Setting up weekly partner or team fitness challenges is also a good way of getting people moving while creating some healthy competition.

A study by the Black Dog institute found that just one hour a week of exercise can help prevent depression.

Promote work life balance

It’s all too easy for employees to get sucked into projects at work and end up spending more time in the office than at home. This results in an increase in stress levels and the potential for burnout.

To promote work life balance, try to keep track of what employees are working on and how much of a workload they have. If a big project is coming up or it’s a busy time, assign more team members to assist or hire some temporary staff for the project duration. Likewise if you notice that someone is working late or excessive hours.

Managing work life balance will result in happier, healthier employees and subsequent studies have shown that their productivity in the workplace increases too. It’s a win win.