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Maximizing Workplace Success Through Mental Well-Being: The How-To Prioritizing mental well-being is not only crucial for personal fulfillment, but is also instrumental in driving workplace productivity, and fostering a conducive work environment.

By Mark Sephton

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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In the dynamic landscape of modern business, the fair distribution of 24 hours per day, seven days a week, is a universal truth. Strategically allocating this invaluable resource holds the key to optimizing our mental sharpness and driving peak performance.

When it comes to companies and organizations, the desire for maximized performance can be linked to a commitment to well-being, both among employees and throughout the overall workplace. The interplay between mental well-being and workplace productivity cannot be overstated.

Taking cues from experts like Olga Kiendler, an award-winning executive and leadership coach specializing in change management and mental wellbeing, we can glean insights on how to optimize our output by placing a premium on mental health.

According to Kiendler, prioritizing mental well-being is not only crucial for personal fulfillment, but is also instrumental in driving workplace productivity, and fostering a conducive work environment. By consciously investing in our own mental health, we boost our own output while also contributing to the collective success of the organization.

With a mission to promote mental well-being as a cornerstone of professional growth and achievement, I sat down with Kiendler to ask why this is so beneficial, and what both employees and leaders can begin to do to.

Why is it important that individuals commit to their own mental well-being, and what does this entail?

We all have a personal responsibility for our (mental) well-being, which directly influences those we live with, interact with, work with and for. Self-awareness is crucial, and we need to work on this actively and continuously. It helps us understand our emotions, actions, and reactions. It's important to recognize where these stem from, whether belief systems or heavier mental issues. Managing emotions is key; it involves acknowledging and regulating them effectively. Mental hygiene, akin to physical hygiene, is vital for mental well-being; yet, it's often overlooked. We're not inherently adept at this, and we need to learn how to maintain our mental well-being through practices like mindfulness and self-care.

Olga Kiendler, an award-winning executive and leadership coach specializing in change management and mental wellbeing. Image courtesy of Olga Kiendler.

How does mental-wellbeing relate to the work environment and a company's goals?

Integrating mental well-being into corporate culture and emphasizing human sustainability are crucial for fostering a healthy and productive work environment. Companies that prioritize these aspects are not only likely to improve employee well-being, but also enhance business performance and ensure long-term success. When employees feel valued and supported, they are more likely to think creatively and collaborate effectively. Supporting employees in their mental well-being reduces unplanned absences due to stress, anxiety, or other mental health issues, leading to higher attendance rates, increased productivity, and reduced absenteeism. A positive work environment, free from stress and anxiety, fosters improved focus, concentration, creativity, problem-solving, teamwork, and collaboration.

While mental well-being starts with individuals, companies can significantly contribute by raising awareness about mental well-being, and helping individuals overcome everyday hurdles. Companies, as well as schools, should support individuals in mandatory education on how they form their belief systems, actions, reactions, and interpretations of the world, as well as why they choose to behave in certain ways. I strongly believe that every individual should receive trauma-informed education, and have the opportunity to work on self-awareness and subconscious belief systems. This approach is crucial for companies aiming for human sustainability.

Can fostering a culture of psychological safety and support lead to greater innovation and creativity among team members?

Fostering a culture of psychological safety and support can indeed lead to greater innovation and creativity among team members. Psychological safety refers to an environment where individuals feel safe to take interpersonal risks, such as speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes, without fear of punishment or negative consequences. When team members feel safe to express their ideas without fear of judgment or reprisal, they are more likely to take creative risks and think outside the box. This sense of safety can also encourage open and honest communication, which can lead to the sharing of diverse perspectives and ideas. Furthermore, when team members feel supported by their colleagues and leaders, they are more likely to feel motivated and empowered to contribute their best work. Sense of belonging increases and people build out of their strengths.

What role do leadership and management practices play in promoting mental well-being and, ultimately, driving productivity?

It is important to understand that leaders are the ones who set the tone for the organization, creating a culture that either supports or hinders mental well-being. Effective leaders prioritize open communication, encourage work-life balance, and provide resources for mental health support. Good management practices ensure that work is distributed fairly, reducing stress and preventing burnout. Clear expectations and feedback mechanisms help employees feel supported and motivated, boosting morale and productivity. Additionally, leaders who promote inclusivity and diversity create environments where employees feel valued and respected, enhancing mental well-being.

Furthermore, proactive leadership in recognizing and addressing mental health issues reduces stigma and encourages seeking help. Fostering a supportive environment where employees feel comfortable discussing mental health challenges is crucial. Lastly, leadership that invests in training and development programs can equip employees with skills to manage stress and improve mental resilience, ultimately benefiting both individuals and the organization. It is crucial, however, for leaders to get support and feedback on their own behavior, too. Sometimes, this is the key to an overall well-being of an organization: the self-awareness of their leader.

Are there any specific techniques or wellness modalities that have shown measurable results in boosting workplace productivity?

Mindfulness practices, such as hypnosis, meditation, deep breathing exercises, have been linked to reduced stress, improved focus, and increased cognitive flexibility, all of which can enhance well-being, productivity, and engagement. Additionally, mental health programs that promote self-care, resilience, and emotional intelligence are almost standard these days.

There is one new approach, however, that I believe in, and that is "trauma-informed coaching" in the workplace. Trauma is often a misunderstood word. Trauma can stem from seemingly minor events in childhood or experiences that differ greatly between individuals. What constitutes trauma for one person may not be traumatic for another. These varied experiences can influence how we interpret and react to situations, such as feeling stressed, guilty, or reacting strongly to seemingly small triggers like shouting at work. Feeling used, unable to say "no," or being in the never-ending victim role are just some of the examples.

Trauma-informed approaches consider these differences, and aim to provide support and understanding tailored to each individual's unique experiences. This understanding can inform policies and practices that promote a supportive and inclusive work environment, which is crucial for employee retention and productivity. Trauma-informed education can also help reduce stigma and increase empathy, fostering a culture of understanding and support for those affected by trauma. Some more, some less.

What more needs to be done within organizations to help improve mental well-being?

Human sustainability, akin to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) components, should become a mandatory reporting requirement for organizations. It encompasses the holistic well-being of individuals within the workforce, including physical health, mental well-being, job satisfaction, and personal development. Incorporating human sustainability into mandatory reporting, similar to mental well-being reports, can lead to a more productive, engaged, and resilient workforce, benefiting both individuals and organizations alike. Apart from programming, training managers and leaders to recognize and address mental health issues is crucial. Additionally, creating a work environment that encourages work-life balance and reduces stress can significantly impact mental well-being. Last but not least, prioritizing human sustainability can enhance an organization's reputation, making it more attractive to top talent.

Related: Radical Acceptance: How To Move Beyond Life's Challenges And Disappointments

Mark Sephton

Entrepreneur, Mentor, and Business Coach

Mark Sephton is a personal mentor to entrepreneurs. His mission to help others has seen him break into global markets while working with startups and millionaire entrepreneurs around the world.

Mark’s love for entrepreneurship has been expressed through serving as a podcast host for Brainz Magazine. When not on the mic, Mark is a regular contributor to Entrepreneur, and a speaker for corporate events, entrepreneurship summits, and major conferences worldwide.

His expertise in personal and professional development has positioned him as an expert in the industry, resulting in transformational experiences for audiences, clients, and businesses alike. Drawing from personal experiences, Mark has taken the essence of what he has experienced and built a business that helps draw out the magnificent potential that every person beholds using his GPS system to highlight blind spots, efficiencies and deficiencies.

He is also the author of three personal development books Inside Job, Plot Twist, and his latest book, Mark of a Man, launching on November 30, 2021.

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