With an increase in mental health-related issues and stress levels a growing concern across the majority of industries, leadership responsibilities now demand even more emotional intelligence from management than ever before.

With a significant rise in employees experiencing depression and anxiety within the workplace, managers now need to understand why this is happening, identify what could be lacking in the work environment and how they can support the workforce in building better mental health and stress management systems.

From daily interactions to overbearing workloads to environments which are stuffy, devoid of natural light and overall oppressive, there are a plethora of roots for the problem of declining mental health in the workplace. Leadership now needs to learn to adopt an emotionally intelligent approach to dealing with these problems and creating proactive resolutions.

Focus skills and tasks

Although we pride ourselves on evolving to multitask and juggle a multitude of skills and responsibilities, sometimes these can get in our way of leading a fulfilling and well-managed work life.

Workplace leadership should aim to find out what each individual's key talents and preferred or optimum areas of work are and allow them to focus on 2 or 3 core responsibilities, allowing them to put maximum effort into fewer tasks improving the quality of the output and overall reducing stress and workload.

Allowing individuals to ‘specialise’ and ensuring that a new role is appointed to another specialised or new member of staff, rather than layering this on top of another ‘sort-of-similar’ role ensures that focus isn’t pulled away from the core responsibility. By layering roles onto one individual, for example, asking digital marketing specialist to take on the event coordination tasks can result in anxiety and stress due to the exhaustion caused by switching approach too frequently. The right approach is to retask this work onto a person specifically trained in that field, hiring an event coordinator to work alongside the marketing specialist would improve employee wellbeing and increase the quality of the final output.

Increasing community and reducing loneliness

A well-structured workplace community can be key to ensuring that your employees are less susceptible to mental health problems caused by work. A sense of belonging and the ability to work and communicate with others who genuinely care about their feelings and wellbeing is recognised as bringing joy and happiness to their lives. Developing real relationships with one another boosts employee morale, teamwork and job satisfaction, which can lead to a boosted capability and improved output.

Where individuals attend a workplace everyday that feels inclusive and does not exclude each other can reduce overall feelings of loneliness. Loneliness can be one of the root causes of negative thoughts, low mood and mental health-related issues in the workplace, therefore encouraging communication, both inside and outside of work can support individuals in feeling less lonely.

Management and leaders, in particular, can make a tremendous difference to their employee's life by displaying empathy and a listening ear. Many individuals wish to speak out about problems and feelings, however, they do not feel they can speak in confidence with their management. Building effective relationships here can allow managers to better understand their team and often yields better results in terms of work output.