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How a psychologically healthy work environment is good for business

Staff well-being affects productivity, engagement and resilience

4-minute read

Research shows that teams in psychologically healthy workplaces are more communicative, collaborative and inclined to solve problems together, all of which can significantly increase results.

So how do you go about creating that kind of workplace for your business?

It starts by finding a balance between four different factors:

  • Demand
  • Control
  • Effort
  • Reward

Highly demanding workplaces where employees have little control over their work or receive scant recognition for their efforts are usually stressful and hard on everyone’s mental health.

When demands are reasonable and employees have some control and are properly recognized for their efforts, a healthier—and usually more productive—environment emerges.

Strike the right balance 

Demand Control
Effort Reward

These four factors play out differently from one workplace to the next. The best way to find out what works for your business is to talk to your employees.

Make mental health a priority

While larger companies may be in a better position to institute benefits like employee assistance programs (EAPs), entrepreneurs have the advantage of seeing up close the front-line realities of the workplace.

In a smaller business you can also more quickly adjust workplace conditions.

Ask these four questions when someone on your team comes forward with mental health issues:

“What can I do to help?”

There may be accommodations or other changes you could make that would relieve some of their burden.

“What could you do to help yourself?”

Encourage your team members to seek support from their own network or take other actions that will support their mental health.

“What additional supports would help?”

Identify resources that might be useful, such as health specialists, team members or an EAP, if one is available. If you don’t have an EAP, try to familiarize yourself with other resources in the community that you can suggest to employees who are in need.

“When can we talk about this again?”

Follow-up is critical but often overlooked. Make sure the person coming forward knows this isn’t a one-and-done conversation, that you’ll check in to confirm that things are improving—and then be sure to follow through.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself

While it’s important to look after the mental health of your employees, remember to also take care of yourself. According to a study by the Canadian Mental Health Association, in conjunction with BDC, entrepreneurs report mental health problems at nearly three times the rate of the general population (21% vs. 8.1%).

Entrepreneurs should reach out to their networks for support and advice. Your networks’ supportiveness can go beyond business challenges; why not share thoughts about how to get through a tough time or help an employee in need?

Mental health: a challenge for business owners

Learn more about entrepreneurial mental health in Canada and find resources for your personal wellness on our entrepreneurs’ well-being page.