How to lead a healthy workplace for employers and workers

Why a Mentally Healthy Organization is Important

Concerned about workers’ health, safety and well-being for hundreds of millions of working people worldwide, The World Health Organization (WHO) developed a Global Plan of Action on Workers’ Health 2008-2017.   

Workers represent half the world’s population and are the major contributors to economic and social development. Their health is determined not only by workplace hazards but also by social and individual factors and access to health services.

Why should you find ways to promote a healthy workplace? Dr. Maria Neira says it succinctly in a very practical way: “The wealth of business depends on the health of workers.” (Director, Department of Public Health and Environment, World Health Organization).

I like the WHO healthy workplace model: avenues of influence, process, and core principles is very practical. Here is how it looks:

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Since this is the month of Mental Health awareness, we are going to focus just on the Psychosocial work environment. The psychosocial work environment includes organizational culture as well as attitudes, values, beliefs and daily practices in the enterprise that affect the mental and physical well-being of employees. Factors that might cause emotional or mental stress are often called workplace 'stressors'.

Surprisingly, 35% of respondents from a Mental Health America report stated that they miss three to five days a month because of workplace stress. A 2016 Work and Wellbeing survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) reported that less than half of the 1501 workers surveyed felt their organization supported employee well-being, and one in three reported being chronically stressed on the job. Only 47 percent felt the recognition they received reflected their contributions to the organization. Fifty-three percent reported a lack of opportunity for growth or advancement, which was the second largest contributor to job stress after low salaries.

What steps can leaders take to lower stress in the workplace and enhance the mental wellbeing of their employees?

1. Eliminate or modify stressors at the source:

Reallocate work to reduce workload, remove supervisors or retrain them in communication and leadership skills, enforce zero tolerance for workplace harassment and discrimination.

2. Lessen impact of stress on workers:

Allow flexibility to deal with work-life conflict situations, provide supervisory and co-worker support (resources and emotional support), allow flexibility in the location and timing of work, and provide timely, open and honest communication.

3. Protect workers by raising awareness, providing training, and listening to complains: 

For example regarding conflict prevention or harassment situations. I hope one lesson we have learn from the #MeToo movement is that unless the voices of victims are taken seriously, changes don't happen.

4. Promote positivity:

Setting the standard for a positive corporate culture should be a major focus for leaders in any organization. When employees are happy, they are more likely to perform better and contribute more. Creating something positive and upbeat within the organization will contribute greatly to organizational effectiveness and success. Here are a few suggestions that can help:

  • Meaningful work. Create a clear vision statement for your company. Employees like to know that the job they are doing is making a difference. By creating a vision statement about where you want your company to be in the future and how you want it to make the world a better place creates an air of striving for betterment in the workplace. This lays the foundation for a positive work culture.
  • Positive people. Look for positive attitudes while hiring. Negative people can quickly sour an entire workplace. When hiring employees, look for a friendly smile and an upbeat disposition. Ask questions of new hires to determine how they handle conflict and interactions with others. If you already have negative employees on staff, take them aside to discuss their attitudes and make it clear that you are creating a positive work culture and negativity will not be tolerated.
  • Accessibility and example.  When the boss is inaccessible and distant to employees, they may not feel as though their opinions matter. Establish an open-door policy and encourage interaction with employees. Ask their opinions, listen to what they have to say and remember to be positive in your dealings with them. Positivity starts with you!
  • Communication and engagement. Employees may not realize the good that the company is doing behind closed doors. Keeping them informed about exciting new changes or new horizons will help them stay engaged in the company and feel more positive about the future. Be honest and open with your employees. Engage your employees in daily operations of the company. and listen to their suggestions and worries.  
  • Appreciation. Employee recognition and appreciation.  Employees who are not recognized for the work they do can feel as though their work is unappreciated. Establish reward systems for excellent performance and never forget to thank an employee for a job well done.

Remember. . .

Organizations that encourage a culture of positivity, flourish. A positive workplace culture leads to increased productivity, better employee morale and the ability to keep skilled workers. Negative attitudes in the workplace, particularly when they are displayed by management or the small business owner, can have a dramatic impact on the entire workforce. Taking the steps to ensure that a positive culture is present in the workplace will go a long way towards keeping your organization running smoothly and keeping your employees happy and mentally healthy.


As a leader you control many things. Yet, you can't control what life throws at your employees or the actions and words of other people. Dr. Ada teaches how to create dramatic and lasting stress reduction for executives and their organizations. This is accomplished with a neuroscience-based process that effectively neutralizes specific stress reactions in your body and brain in about 10 minutes. The result is an immediate increase in mental and emotional clarity, physical relaxation, and openness to possibilities. When practiced, outcomes include improved team communication and relationships, more innovation, greater job satisfaction and less turnover.