Structures that promote mental health

Good workflow promotes and supports mental health. Make sure that your company’s framework and structures enable smooth work and communication. Ensure that you understand the workload and risk factors of the work. In this way you can prevent the negative effects caused by an excessive workload.

Develop the structures of your organisation

The organisational structure of a company describes how roles, responsibilities, power, communication and other factors are defined and arranged. The structure forms a basis for a good workflow, decision making, interaction and risk management. Good structures will help you create the required conditions for work that promotes mental health.

Ensure the quality and amount of leadership

Leading people is a job task like any other. To succeed in it, managers and supervisors need competence, motivation and sufficient time. You also need indicators that reveal how your employees are doing and which workflow barriers they are facing.

Make sure you meet these requirements. The quality of daily leadership and a supervisor who is considered to be fair affect the flow and enjoyment of work as well as work ability.

Know your employees

When you know your employees well enough you can also correctly organise and resource the work. A task that is too big a challenge for one can be just perfect for someone else.

Create the structures for continuous and regular conversations, because both situations and work ability can change. Ensuring these structures takes time and effort. When you remember to take into account individual differences in people and situations, you will improve both workflow and your employees’ mental health.

Make goals and roles clear

Role unclarity and unclear and goals are proven risk factors for mental health. Define roles and goals together with the supervisors and employees. Reasonable, achievable and understandable goals that the employees have had a say in, significantly support both mental health and achieving these goals.

Feeling inadequate is a scourge of modern work life. You can reduce it by regularly reviewing roles and goals. Ensure that you have clear processes and time for the review. At their best, goals describe what is good enough. Knowing what is enough supports the employee’s mental health and they have the opportunity to do their part in achieving the goals.

Manage workload-related risks

You cannot eliminate all of your workplace’s risks, including those related to cognitive, ethical and psychosocial workload. A high workload is not always harmful, but an excessive workload combined with inadequate recovery is. Focus on minimising excessive workload, so that the risks will not materialise.

To succeed, begin by building the best possible working conditions in your company. Use researched methods of organisational and cognitive ergonomics to help you achieved this. First evaluate the workload factors and then make use of ergonomics to develop the work. Using organisational ergonomics you can develop e.g. work processes, the division of work, working hour arrangements, production and services as well as collaboration between employees. Cognitive ergonomics will help you develop, among other things, the contents of the work, the presentation and amount of information, as well as minimise interruptions of work.

Ensure effectiveness

Keep track of your employees’ thoughts and opinions on factors affecting mental health while also monitoring their overall well-being. In personnel surveys, ask questions related to work structures, workload and workflow as well as questions about interaction at the workplace, dailyleadership and organisational culture.

Make summaries of these topics addressed from performance reviews, and include mental health and workload as one theme in the performance reviews. Collect supervisors’ observations on daily management and discussions held with employees. The company’s HR reporting on absences due to illness and your occupational health partner’s regular reporting are also useful tools for keeping track of the situation, but they show the changes with a delay.

Ensure good communication

Also remember to communicate about promoting mental health at the workplace. Make sure your employees know what kind of support is available and encourage them to use the support services. Embrace mental health and its promotion as a recurrent and encouraged topic of discussion. This allows you to build an organisational culture where people feel less ashamed of their mental health and mental health issues and are less afraid of being labelled because of them.

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