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The Importance of Emotional
Wellness at Work
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Many companies understand that when employees are healthy, they are are at a lower risk of burnout, happier at work and therefore more productive. Many now invest in wellness initiatives like healthy snacks, ergonomic workstations, and workplace gyms. While the physical health of employees is generally well addressed; many companies do not sufficiently consider emotional wellness in the workplace and the impact this can have.

When companies are unsupportive of employees’ mental health work performance suffers and significant costs arise. Mental health problems cost UK employers almost £30 billion each year in absences due to sickness, lost productivity, and attrition. Lost productivity or “presenteeism” is the most significant of those costs at over £20 billion annually.

The mental health of employees is just as important as physical health and needs to be addressed by companies in every industry. Here we outline a number of ways that leaders and managers can encourage mental and emotional wellness in the workplace:

1. Be an example for employees

Leaders need to demonstrate the behaviours that they would like employees to emulate. Managers who are constantly stressed about workloads and regularly stay at the office well past business hours set a poor example when it comes to having a healthy work/life balance.

Leaders and managers need to show interest in their employees' life outside of work and share their own experiences. This creates empathy and demonstrates that life outside of work and the whole person is considered valuable. It’s also healthy for managers to acknowledge when their teams are under pressure. This can help create a safe and positive environment where employees can feel comfortable speaking up and asking for help.

2. Connect your employees with the right resources

It’s important for organisational leaders to talk about mental health. Mental health can carry a stigma in some cultures and workplaces and often issues go unaddressed. Leaders and managers need to let employees know that issues can be openly discussed. Employees need to be reassured that it is safe for them to voice their concerns about challenges with stress, anxiety, and depression.

Making employees aware of company mental health resources is also key - having a company newsletter, mental health practitioners, or a resource library can all be helpful. While employees do need to seek out these resources on their own, reminding them of their options can encourage them to do so. When someone is battling a mental health challenge, it can be easy to forget that there are resources available to help.

3. Understand your emotions

A critical step towards building emotional awareness is to understand your own emotions. Start by identifying how you feel throughout the day, and take a not of what triggers those emotions.

Practice mindfulness techniques, such as breathing exercises and meditation, to help you focus on the present moment. This allows you to recognise your emotions as they arise and develop increased self-awareness.

4. Develop empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It is a critical skill in the workplace, as it enables you to connect with colleagues and build relationships.

To develop empathy, start by actively listening to others and try to understand their perspective. Show empathy by acknowledging their feelings and responding in a supportive manner. This creates a positive and supportive environment in the workplace.

5. Create a sense of belonging

Employees who feel like they belong in their position and among their colleagues will be more productive and engaged. Ensuring employees understand their role within the organisation’s greater purpose will give them a sense of accomplishment and motivate them to contribute.

Encouraging employees to form personal connections with colleagues provides them with a support network that they can count on. A workplace where employees feel emotionally supported and safe to express their opinions creates a healthy environment that is inclusive and empathetic.

Every organisation should make sure that their leaders and managers are talking to employees one-on-one. The goal should be to learn about what motivates them and how the organisation can support them in achieving their professional goals. When an employee feels valued and supported, they will be happier, more loyal, and more productive.

6. Build healthy relationships

Building healthy relationships is a critical component of emotional awareness. It involves developing positive relationships with colleagues through communication, trust, and mutual respect.

This can be achieved by actively listening to others, being open to feedback, showing empathy, and communicating clearly and respectfully.

7. Learn to manage your emotions

Managing your emotions is an essential part of emotional awareness. It involves recognising your emotions and responding appropriately to them. For instance, if you feel angry or frustrated, take a break, and go for a walk or practice deep breathing exercises. This helps to avoid reacting impulsively, which can lead to conflict and stress in the workplace.

Mental health and the emotional wellness of employees should be an everyday concern for employers. A comprehensive wellness programme not only addresses physical health, but also the mental health of employees. By striving to improve the emotional health of employees’ organisations will realise many benefits through reduced costs, improved loyalty, and greater productivity.

Why not reach out to your dedicated Irish Life Account Manager or Wellbeing Consultant or contact us at wellness@irishlife.ie  and find out how we can help you in this area.
 

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