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Improving Employee Mental Health: Communicate Regularly

Checking in with staff with managers identify and address concerning behavior

By Amy Wunderlin, Contributing Writer  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Employee Wellbeing Is New Job Duty for Facility ManagersPt. 2: This Page

Weekly check-ins are a critical tool managers can utilize to build trust with their employees and normalize conversations about mental health. The key is balancing the discussion around job performance and overall wellbeing.  

“It's not just talking about KPIs and metrics; the conversation has to go a little bit further,” says Bogan. “What we're finding is when managers can bring this into performance conversations or weekly check ins and not just talk about numbers, but ask, ‘How are you doing? How are you feeling? How's the job going? How is your role? How is your workload? What’s going on outside of work? How are your family doing?’ All those kinds of things just to make it approachable and normal, and I think that's where the training lies.” 

According to Dr. Raafat W. Girgis, psychiatrist and medical director of the Rehab Center Moment of Clarity, managers also must be reasonable about expectations on performance and the need for flexibility when there is evidence of stress.  

“Be open minded about the struggles of stress and mental health concerns,” says Girgis. “Managers can make or break the atmosphere in the workplace. They are the watchers, the fixers, and the leaders for those they oversee. Always, always be kind.”  

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As these types of conversations become a normal part of workplace culture, Bogan adds that it becomes easier to spot concerning behavior and address it. Managers should look for and monitor signs of irritation, consistent mistakes in their work, someone asking for a lot of time off, disengaged in their role, not really communicating with anyone anymore, not showing a burst of energy or any response.  

“It's just really important for leaders to be there for their people; really make sure that they're having those good conversations and making those tough conversations as normal as possible,” says Bogan. 

Lead by example 

Removing the stigma around discussing mental health in the workplace will take more than open communication, however. Leaders and managers must also be open and willing to lead by example.  

“They can't just talk about it; they have to live by that purpose,” says Bogan.  

This could be something as simple as turning work off at the end of the day. No more answering emails or phone calls over the weekend. Bogan adds that organizations also have seen a lot of success in showing an environment where their leaders take a break. This could look like going on a walk throughout the workday or sharing a book or podcast on self-development.   

“The more leaders ingrain it to, ‘These are things that I'm doing; these are things that I do to help myself,’ the more people will follow,” he concludes. 

Amy Wunderlin is a freelance writer based in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. 

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  posted on 3/14/2024   Article Use Policy

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