Strengthening mental health and resilience in organizations

mentale-gesundheit-resilienz-stärken

March 27, 2024

It is becoming increasingly important for organizations to focus on promoting the mental health and resilience of their employees. What can people developers and leaders do to support their employees in this regard?

Our working world is characterized by a constant pace and increasing demands. As a result, it is becoming more and more important for organizations to focus on promoting the mental health of their employees and strengthening their resilience. Challenges such as the feeling of having to be available at all times and having to complete more complex tasks in less time can lead to a higher workload and as a consequence more sick days. It is therefore not only a moral but also an economic responsibility to invest in the well-being of employees.

Status quo: the impact in numbers

The year 2023 is expected to see a new high in sick days due to mental illness. This was the result of data from the Techniker Krankenkasse. Mental illness is the second most common reason for sick leave. The figures from the DAK Psychreport are also worrying. In a ten-year comparison, the DAK recorded a 52% increase in sick days due to mental illness! The average duration of sick leave due to mental illness is around 33 days.

DAK Psychreport figures

Employee stress levels are also at an all-time high. In the Gallup State of the Global Workplace Report 2023, 44% of survey participants stated that they feel very stressed on a daily basis. As a result, stress levels can negatively impact employees’ everyday lives and private lives.

What is causing these negative developments? Many factors come together here – driven by digitalization, the working world is becoming increasingly dynamic, people have to achieve more in less time, be constantly available, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve a harmonious balance between work and private life. In addition, there are perma-crises such as climate change and the pandemic, which demand a lot from people both physically and mentally. There is no denying that resilience and mental health must be given high priority. The high number of sick days also shows a financial component. It is not only worthwhile for companies to make a change from a human perspective, but also from an economic one.

How can we promote mental health in organizations?

Our lives are characterized by constant stimulation and we spend a lot of our time in front of screens. Recognizing the value of recovery is therefore the first step. People need periods of rest in order to be able to perform in the long run. For one thing, this means having time to relax at all – for example, not jumping from one meeting to the next, but being able to take a break in between. Secondly, the experience during the recovery phase is also crucial.

If employees feel pressured to be constantly available, they cannot mentally distance themselves from work and wind down sufficiently, even on weekends. Another thing to bear in mind is that recovery is not the same for everyone. People with a physically demanding job need completely different forms of recovery than people who work a lot in the digital space.

recovery-mental-health-strengthening

So with sufficient rest, everything is fine? No. Holistic health management aims to design work in such a way that it strengthens people rather than weakening them.

Corporate culture as the most important lever

The corporate culture and how it is practiced form the foundation for healthy working. In a culture of psychological safety, people can react to issues collectively and enter a dialog. Psychological safety builds on trust, vulnerability, and accountability to create a space where employees can freely express their opinions. An environment where employees feel comfortable talking about their challenges and asking for support can help reduce stress and improve overall wellbeing. Above all, this requires awareness in leaders. This can mean, for example, that leaders are trained and that it becomes less stigmatized to talk about mental illnesses.

A positive corporate culture also encourages the implementation of resources and programs to promote mental health and resilience. This can include, for example, flexible working time models that enable employees to find a healthy balance between work and private life. But training in stress management and resilience can also support psychological health. It is important to note here: Mental health and resilience are not the same thing! Even resilient people can develop mental illness.

Trainings to strengthen resilience and manage stress better

Shaping culture is a long-term process that can be supported with workshops and training, for example. Resilience training can help employees to develop effective stress management strategies. By learning how to deal with stressors and react more resiliently to challenging situations, they can strengthen their psychological resilience and improve their mental health. Resilience training can also provide support in dealing with emotions by helping employees to better understand and regulate their emotions.

In order to establish the topic sustainably in an organization, it is necessary to raise awareness before everything else. Even though resilience is becoming increasingly important in the work context, the term is still very abstract for many people.

resilience-strengthening-through-resilience-training

It is therefore important to position the topic in such a way that everyone can understand it and relate to it. To do so, it can be beneficial to initially combine resilience with other topics, such as conflict resolution. It is also important to address resilience at an early stage and not only react when the situation is already very stressful.

Periods of high stress levels are not suitable for building resilience. Instead, measures should be planned preventively and give employees the tools they need to better deal with challenges. A holistic strategy also addresses resilience at an individual, team, and organizational level.

Small measures with big impact

Cultural change does not happen overnight. But there are small things that organizations can introduce right now to support their employees. Here are a few examples:

Mental Health Day

Mental challenges can cause a person to be unable to work just as much as the flu or other illnesses. Giving employees the opportunity to take a day off without having to specify recognizes this and takes the pressure off employees.

Focus days

Days with back-to-back meetings can be very stressful for employees and often result in activities falling short and pressure to complete tasks. (Weekly) Focus days without any meetings can help.

Mindfulness sessions

We’ve all heard it before: “If you’re stressed, try yoga”. Of course, it’s not that simple. However, it has been proven that short mindfulness breaks and exercise have a positive effect on our brain activity. So why not arrange 10 minutes together as a team for stretching or something similar?

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)

Mental illness is one of the biggest health risks of our time, yet first aid for psychological health is not very common. Having people in the organization trained as MHFA is a sign against stigmatization and provides ways to act in acute situations.

Show & Tell meetings

Show & Tells are often about demonstrating your own work progress and exchanging ideas about it. In meetings with specific topics, important issues can be discussed, for example a Show & Tell on depression or anxiety disorders.

show-tell-meeting-stress

CONCLUSION

Anchoring such a complex and extensive topic in the organization is a long-term process, but through targeted measures and a supportive corporate culture, organizations can make a positive contribution to the well-being of their employees. It is their responsibility as employers to create a healthy working environment that enables employees to develop their full potential.

At troodi, we organize events from time to time to discuss topics like this. Would you like to be a part of it and attend our next event? Subscribe to our newsletter or join the troodi L&D community to make sure you don’t miss anything. You can find more information about our training program here.

Jacqueline Soldan
Marketing Manager
Als Marketing Managerin bei troodi ist Jacqueline in sämtliche Marketing Aktivitäten über verschiedene Kanäle involviert. Ihren professionellen Hintergrund hat sie im Event Management mit einem Bachelor in International Business Communication, Schwerpunkt Marketing und Personalmanagement.

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