Managing mental health in manufacturing

October 27, 2022

Manufacturing environments are busy places to work. Not only is it demanding work on the body, but it can impact the mind too. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 20% of employees struggle with their mental health. If one in five of your employees may be feeling the effects of a mental illness, helping your workforce take care of both their bodies and minds is all the more important to ensure they remain safe, happy and productive.

That's why we've created a useful list of simple tips that can help you to take care of your staff's mental health and keep them more engaged and motivated throughout the day.

Encourage open communication

Lead by example and be open with your staff about mental health. The more you speak to your employees, the more they will feel comfortable opening up when they need help and support. It may take some time before that level of trust has grown, but once it has you'll start to see real honest feedback. Your staff will feel encouraged to come to you with their concerns or issues, as well as ideas for improving morale and productivity.

Give them a break (literally)

Time is money, especially in manufacturing. But employee burnout has a significant impact on mental well-being and, inherently, productivity. Where possible, provide your employees with another break, or longer breaks, throughout the workday. While there are state meal and rest break laws that should be adhered to for compliance reasons, making the gesture of addressing employee wellness by extending breaks can go a long way to improving mental health and morale. Not only does it give workers a reprieve from their jobs, but it shows them they're valued and appreciated.

Address fears for the future

We live in uncertain times for many reasons, but one of those reasons is the introduction of more automation in the manufacturing process. A study conducted by Harvard Business Review shows that automation can make staff fearful about their futures. This is largely when they aren't consulted or feel insufficiently trained. When looking to invest in technology that supports your teams, make sure it's going to be a tool that reduces the mental and physical stresses of the job. As much as possible, also try to involve your workers in the process — this will make staff feel confident that their positions aren't in jeopardy, and may even result in them giving honest insight that could be useful for your decision-making.

Make work mindful

Consider introducing a mindfulness initiative in the workplace. Some wellness initiatives provide useful information for employees to incorporate mindfulness practices into their workday. This can include simple meditation techniques and stretches staff can do during their breaks.

Keep your employees covered

Health insurance is a common benefit for workers to expect in their employment package, but many of these policies don't cover mental health as standard. Explore the potential to expand or add to your current employee health cover to provide support for mental health services too. Even for those who don't feel that they need it, the implication of this inclusion will make a bold statement about your commitment to ensuring the well-being of your staff, which in itself is a significant reassurance for workers.