Business Leadership Must Consider Their Employees’ Mental Health

11th Oct , 2021

Great leaders are concerned not only for the performance of their people, but also their welfare, and that concern tends to translate into a supportive working performance business culture that, in turn, promotes better, happier and more productive business teams and individuals. Any business mentor will tell you that this is the key to maintaining business performance and achieving success.

As a great business leader, owner or manager, it is important that you fully consider your leadership role in terms of supporting your staff’s mental wellbeing, particularly during tough times.

Your employees (and yourself) will experience a variety of pressures on mental health, even more so in the current pandemic. Added to this is the fact that each person will have their own individual personal circumstances adding to their individual stress, and eventually their mental health and their performance.

Mental health pressure in the workplace can be a physical response to a deteriorating balance between job demands and the resources and capabilities of the individual employee. Mental health in the workplace is an issue business leaders cannot afford to ignore, as performance and well-being will drop if not addressed. This is especially true given that the pandemic has increased mental health problems generally and has become a more prominent feature across all businesses.

Workplace and home stress have both increased with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had the following consequences:

  • High infections, hospitalisations and chronic health and death rates
  • Poor trading conditions for most businesses
  • Loss of employment or reduced hours for employees
  • General negativity in pandemic news reporting
  • Changes in consumer and business confidence
  • Supply chain disruptions
  • Lockdowns and social isolation

Each of the above has taken an enormous toll on businesses and people generally.

What Causes Workplace Stress?

Workplace stress can have many causes that impact mental health in normal times, as well as being relevant during the pandemic. These causes include:

  • Uncomfortable physical working environments – poor seating or workspace layout, elevated levels of noise, inadequate equipment, etc.
  • Bullying, harassment or discrimination
  • Excessive workloads with unrealistic deadlines, leading staff to feel under pressure
  • Lack of support and poor working relationships, fostering a sense of isolation
  • Job insecurity or lack of career progression
  • Poor leadership or conflicts in management styles
  • Staff carrying out tasks they do not have the required experience or skills for
  • Staff having little control over their workload or activities

When you consider the above list, it is clear that a number of these areas may be more prevalent for your staff in the current pandemic. In addition, the pandemic affects us all and therefore there may be a cumulative effect, creating a culture of stress within the workplace that severely impacts productivity and the welfare of your teams.

What Are the Signs of Workplace Stress in Individuals?

Understanding the signs of workplace stress will help you understand how different people exhibit stress and how it affects their mental health.

Fundamentally, what is noticeable about stress or a change in the mental wellbeing of a member of staff is a change in their behaviour. Below are a range of indicators that may be a signal of an employee having their mental health impacted:

  • Altering work patterns – replying to emails late or early in the morning
  • Being vague or seeming unfocused
  • Consistently seeming fatigued or overtired
  • Incomplete projects
  • Increased irritability or conflict with others
  • Increased sick leave
  • Reduced quality of work or an increase in errors
  • Seeming unmotivated or disinterested in work

Of course, all members of staff are individual, so it is crucial to take the time to get to know each member of your team so you can spot the signs on an individual level. Of course, as their manager or leader, it is not expected that you act as a counsellor or mental health professional. However, you do have responsibility for their wellbeing and performance at work. The best approach is to be proactive by reducing the risks of your employees becoming stressed and ensuring that your team feel able to discuss any issues with you that may be concerning them.

Where Do You Start in Supporting Your Staff That May be Stressed?

Supporting staff to adopt strategies is a good start. Feedback from our business mentors and business coaches suggests the following strategies can be beneficial:

  • Regular contact:
    • Ensure that you have a method of maintaining regular contact with your team
  • Be socially engaged:
    • Organise a team or office Zoom meeting for Friday night get-togethers
  • Honesty works:
    • Try to be honest, authentic and sincere in what you say
  • Access support:
    • Ensure your team are clear about how they can access any support which is available through work, particularly for anyone struggling with mental health
  • Inter staff communication:
    • Ensure that all members of your team have effective ways to communicate with one another and have the right equipment to be able to do so
  • Self-care:
    • Encourage your team to take daily action for self-care
  • Fitness:
    • Maintaining exercise regimes
  • Have some ‘me-time’:
    • Allow employees to have a break and refresh
  • Nutrition:
    • Recommend a balanced diet. Some employers have had food parcels delivered to their staff, others have recruited dietitians to educate staff on the aspects and benefits of healthy eating
  • Positive thinking:
    • Give positive feedback and encouragement
    • Get them reading self-help positive thinking texts
  • Give your time:
    • Spend personal time with each individual online or in person as appropriate
  • Sleep:
    • Stress the importance of sleep for overall health, concentration, energy levels and overall mood.


Business mentoring from International Business Mentors can help you identify your people risks and put in place better strategies with your people.

Call us today to discuss how our business mentors can assist in your business.

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