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The relationship between company culture and employee well-being

Sam Woolfe | September 30, 2019

There is a close connection between company culture and the mental health of employees. This is a relationship that businesses need to become increasingly aware of. Company culture can affect the well-being of employees in all sorts of ways. For example, the kind of interaction that employees expect in the workplace and the degree to which they feel comfortable talking about their mental health are two ways in which the culture of a company can make an employee feel supported and satisfied in their role. Let’s examine the link between company culture and mental health in more depth.

Are employees respected?

The degree to which employees are respected can have a big impact on their mental health. But what exactly does respect towards employees look like in the workplace? Well, we can answer this question by first stressing what disrespecting employees looks like. This would include managers feeling that it’s acceptable to be aggressive, hostile, or harsh towards employees, as well as being over-controlling. When managers and bosses act as bullies, this creates a toxic company culture. It can increase levels of stress, anxiety, and low self-esteem among employees, and – in turn – leads to high staff turnover rates.

Does the company culture allow employees to achieve work-life balance?

Company culture also involves certain expectations that employees have about work. As an employee, if you feel expected to work unusually long hours, which can interfere with your social life, then this could be a sign of a company culture that doesn’t prioritise work-life balance. Employees have personal and social lives. And if work eats into their ability to have a fulfilling life outside of work, then this will have a mental health impact. The veneration of overwork as part of a company’s culture can lead to increases in worry, anxiety, stress, irritability, depression, sleep problems, as well as poorer physical health.

However, you can improve employee well-being – and, as a result, engagement, productivity, satisfaction, and loyalty – by promoting work-life balance. This may involve offering ample holiday time, flexible working options (e.g. varying shifts, compressed hours, job sharing, and remote working), and not requiring employees to be on call or check emails after work. In fact, there is a wide range of employee benefits that help to encourage a healthy work-life balance for employees.

The level of cooperation and support

Another key component of a healthy company culture is the degree to which employees feel supported in the workplace. For example, if HR can’t be relied upon to resolve poor managerial practices, then employees can feel helpless or trapped. If the company culture is cut-throat and competitive, with employees feeling the need to undermine each other and engage in office gossip and politics, then this can lead to increased stress and anxiety.

In contrast, when employees feel they can depend on their team for support, in terms of both their work and their emotional well-being, they will be more likely to feel at ease. Indeed, the promotion of a cooperative culture in the workplace is a crucial aspect of looking after employees’ mental health.

Openness about mental health

Some businesses have a company culture that encourages employees to be open about their mental health and to seek support whenever they need it. Other organisations, however, pay little to no attention to their employees’ well-being and may even discriminate against workers who are suffering from poor mental health as a result of their job. When employees feel unable to talk about their mental health in the workplace, this just compounds the problem. Employees need to feel comfortable about reaching out to HR or their manager for help. This kind of company culture is what helps employees to take the necessary steps to achieve better mental health and perform to the best of their ability.

The more that a company culture respects openness about mental health, the greater the success will be of that organisation. Employees are the backbone of any business and if their well-being isn’t made a top priority, then everything else that the company values will be affected.

Employee benefits can help support employee well-being and business success. Download our free e-book to find out more.

Topics: Culture