Little things go a long way to support a mentally healthy workplace.
When these little things occur regularly it demonstrates to employees that your organisation takes mental health seriously, it also encourages people to engage, buy-in and help create a mentally healthy workplace.
There’s many ways for managers and employers to start taking action, but here are five ‘little things’ that contribute to my mentally healthy workplace at SANE Australia.
1 - Flexible workspace
As I write, I am standing at a desk, which is electronically height-adjusted. Staff share this desk, as it’s unlikely anyone wants to stand up to work all of the time. There are spaces where we work quietly and spaces where we can expect a certain level of noise. We use these spaces based on our daily workload and SANE adapts the workplace according to the organisation’s changing needs.
2 - Self-responsibility
We are supported to take responsibility for our own mental wellbeing with flexible working arrangements. These include working from a café, working at home one-day a week to minimize stress related to commuting, as well as flexible start and finish times.
3 - Create a sense of belonging
Having ‘all staff’ gatherings and accepting people as they are helps create a sense of belonging in the workplace. There’s an incentive to go to a workplace when we feel like we belong. ‘Respect’ is one of SANE’s core values, and staff respond positively when they see it in action.
4 - Humour
Each day, we make leaf-tea in a red teapot and swap stories while the tea brews. Being able to have a laugh with each other is a great way to relax and improve our sense of wellbeing. Taking time to share a laugh also helps create a sense of belonging.
5 - Room for improvement
Is there room for improvement in what we do? Of course there is! SANE is always looking at how it can improve its accepting, mentally healthy workplace. This positive attitude, and desire to improve, is part of what makes the workplace a mentally healthy one.
Eliza Oakley is a mental health and workplace expert.