Creating a cohesive environment amongst employees can be difficult in the workplace setting. Different employees have distinctive needs and opinions of how things should be run and organized. Some may rely more on team building and forming strong bonds with their colleagues while others may focus on mental health as a key aspect. All in all, the issue of making the workplace environment a place for learning and growth amongst employees requires the use of a social design (Gruman, Schneider & Coutts, 2017) to incorporate the input of employers and employees to create and maintain balance within all levels of a company. The importance of this type of intervention was addressed by Garen Staglin in “The Importance of a Preventative Approach in Workplace Mental Health”. Here he discusses how important mental health in the workplace has become (Staglin, 2019). Companies are looking to provide more opportunities for their employees to seek help if they are mentally struggling and need to talk to someone. However, before companies can begin to see results and improved mental health for their employees, a plan must be devised that will allow all parties involved to benefit from this program.
Social designs are very helpful when organizations are looking to recruit many people and use their ideas and own experience to formulate well developed plans. Stakeholders who may be funding the program will be included in the decision making along with employers who will oversee the plan and the employees who will be afforded the opportunity to utilize the program being designed. Staglin has found that past resources for mental health have been a challenge for employees to access because they are not fulfilling the necessary components in order for the program to be successful (Staglin, 2019). For instance, workers may find that the current form of mental health assistance works only in finding a single solution to improving mental health. This is not conducive to an accommodating work environment because employees have different problems that require alternatives methods to help them. One person may feel stressed from a heavy workload and need help organizing their life. This could be different from their peer who may feel depressed and needs help getting through a typical work day. These limitations can be very debilitating for employees who feel a lack of transparency in the company because resources that are suppose to help improve employee mental health are not doing what they were intended for.
One way that can reduce this problem is to allow employees to provide feedback about the types of programs that should be implemented. I think this could be a very viable option because employees are on the forefront of what makes up the workplace environment and are the foundation of a hardworking company. Therefore, their needs have to be heard, understood and acted on. If they feel like the mental health programs being offered to them are not working, then this problem needs to be brought to the attention of their employers. As Staglin claims, all workplaces are different (Staglin, 2019). Some require plans that enforce employee comradery, others may work on efficiency and productivity or they can focus on the health of each individual. Regardless of the type, there is no “one size fits all” method that solves all workplace conflict. This is what constitutes the need for a social design over a formal design because formal involves a more general, large scale approach that is more focused on efficiency (Gruman, Schneider & Coutts, 2017). I think that many times, mental health programs attempt to adopt this method because it seems like the easier choice. However, when dealing with mental health, each employee involved is important. One’s needs are just as important as their colleagues and this is what a social design attempts to focus on. Taking in the opinions and perspective from employees on how companies could structure mental health resources can be extremely helpful in determining trends that may be found amongst the types of things the program should focus on.
Surverys, including a mental health workplace assessment is a helpful way to collect feedback from employees regarding mental health. This was created in part by the American Psychiatric Association and it consists of 20 questions that analyze the company’s current resources for mental health. Some of the categories included leadership, organization and culture, support and access to services, and awareness and training (Staglin, 2019). Employees are asked to answer how they feel about each aspect in terms of what needs improvement and what is thoroughly addressed in their workplace. Surveys are very helpful because it allows researchers to categorize the answers in a more standard and efficient manner in order to gain a true depiction of the concerns of the employees. This feedback is extremely helpful for companies in order to see some of the downfalls that their current program has and how it has affected each employee. In addition, feedback from employees can give companies ideas and suggestions that they may not have though of implementing before. As Staglin mentioned, which I think was extremely important was that improved mental health does not solely mean that there is just a lack of a mental ailment, but rather positive mental health means that employees are able to be a productive and hardworking member of a supportive and strong group of colleagues (Staglin, 2019).
Communication plays a very key role in creating an environment in a company that supports its employees and their well beings. If programs are to be implemented for the goal of improving employee mental health, then the employees themselves should have a say in how these programs are structured. What specifically do they want to see and what do they want to get out of the mental health resources? Do they want to have someone to talk to if they feel stressed and overwhelmed? Do they want to be reassured that they are working hard or do they feel like they may be depressed due to discrimination in the workplace? Whatever it may be, companies need to take feedback from their own people, whether it be through surveys or another method, and learn more about the struggles that each of them faces. From this input, companies can add a mental health counselor to their company, create cultural training programs to teach people how to accept others and to enforce more employee team building that fosters cohesiveness. These initiatives can then hopefully carry on into the future in order to maintain this strong basis of having healthy employees and a positive workplace environment.
Gruman, J. A., Schneider, F. W., & Coutts, L. (2017). Applied social psychology: understanding and addressing social and practical problems. SAGE.
Staglin, G. (2019). The Importance Of A Preventative Approach In Workplace Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/onemind/2019/08/28/the-importance-of-a-preventative-approach-in-workplace-mental-health/#26dcf11f5184