Safety and productivity have long been priorities in manufacturing, but how employee mental health affects those issues is just recently being understood. Manufacturing workers’ mental health ranks at the bottom 10% of industries. That can lead to high employee turnover and hurt the bottom line.
By nature, manufacturing workplaces may negatively affect mental health. Demanding production goals and shift work are among the biggest stressors. Other potential contributors include challenging physical demands, noise, repetitive activity, assembly line work that “just keeps coming,” low or lack of sunlight and feelings of isolation.
High stress levels and other mental health challenges, such as depression, anxiety and self-doubt, lower overall morale and hamper an employee’s ability to focus and make decisions, which could lead to accidents or injuries.
On the other hand, a manufacturing environment that works to help employees maintain mental well-being can reduce costly safety mishaps and promote a positive culture that improves productivity. Workplaces that support mental health also are likely to experience better retention and recruiting as the company gains a reputation for being a positive and supportive place to work.
10 Ways to Improve Mental Health in Manufacturing
Implementing a mental health program in manufacturing companies is as doable and effective as promoting safety – and it is fast becoming as essential. Here are 10 ways manufacturing business owners can create a more mentally healthy workplace:
1. Start at the Top
Leaders at every level must embrace the importance of a healthy workplace, understand the steps needed to improve employees’ sense of security, trust and belonging, and commit to identifying and addressing areas where change is needed. This may require owners to provide training to help supervisors identify mental health issues and know how to respond.
2. Ask Workers for Feedback
Survey employees to learn how they believe the company can improve the culture and workplace conditions that affect mental health. Share findings with them and explain how the company plans to respond to the results in a timely manner.
Provide training on how to bring mindfulness practices into the workplace. Offer physical breaks that enable and encourage employees to stretch or get fresh air outdoors. Set wellness goals and recognize employees who achieve them.
4. Value Work-Life Balance
Demonstrate that work-life balance is a company priority – as much as is feasible – by giving employees work schedule flexibility and time off for mental health-related appointments and significant activities with family and friends.
5. Break Up the Routine
Create regular job rotations for employees who have repetitive responsibilities to change up the work they do each day. Besides boosting confidence and reducing burnout, this strategy benefits the company long-term by enabling employees to learn new roles and take on new responsibilities.
6. Set Realistic Requirements
Review production deadlines to make sure they’re achievable and reasonable. Working under deadlines that can’t be met can lead to feelings of inadequacy, negativity and hopelessness.
7. Integrate Perks
Add some fun to reduce monotony and lift spirits, especially during times of increased demand. Ideas include bringing in live music during breaks, offering a surprise catered meal or sending workers home with goodies for their families.
8. Highlight the Benefits
Make sure employees are fully aware of the company’s mental health benefits, such as employee assistance programs or insurance coverage for counseling or other psychological services. It’s the most powerful proof that the company values employees and cares about their mental well-being.
9. Deepen Connections
Manufacturing workers tend to feel disconnected from their employers and unsupported by coworkers. Give workers opportunities for regular face time with leaders, and focus at least some of those interactions on sharing wins, positive customer feedback and other organizational successes. Train employees to recognize and offer support for coworkers who seem to be experiencing mental health distress.
Regularly recognize employees’ work and ask for feedback and ideas on how to make shifts more fulfilling. Consistently convey appreciation to workers through all forms of communication, boosting worker pride by showing them how they contribute to the company’s goals and end results or use of their work product.
Before you do anything, develop a strategic plan that includes metrics by which to measure outcomes. Request a consultation with Axcet HR Solutions’ human resources professionals for more guidance on supporting mental health in your manufacturing business.