Skip to Main Content

5 Strategies for Prioritizing Mental Health and Wellbeing in Your Workplace

News Type Leadership News
Go to Leadership News Subscribe
By Megan Hasting
Professional Development Program Manager

Employee health and wellbeing is directly associated with the productivity and success of an organization. 

In October 2022, the U.S. Surgeon General released a new Framework for Mental Health and Workplace Wellbeing, which places a critical focus on five key principles that lead to healthy workers — both physically and mentally. 

Keep reading for the areas of focus and actionable steps you can take as managers and organizational leaders to create a healthy environment and foster workplace well-being.  

Protection from Harm 

Prioritize physical and psychological safety in the workplace, encourage adequate rest, normalize support for mental health, and operationalize values related to diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA). 

Did you know?

In a 2021 survey of adult workers, 76% of respondents reported at least one symptom of a mental health condition, an increase of 17 percentage points in just two years 2.

How to get started: 

  • Increase access to workplace training and job tools, and review workplace safety requirements. 

  • Examine workloads to reduce long working hours and overtime shifts, and prioritize rest. 

  • Communicate the importance of mental health, and model healthy habits as a leader. 

  • Confront structural racism and microaggressions by enhancing training and reporting. 

  • Consider people with accessibility needs with goals of full participation, accommodation and modifications. 

Connection and Community  

Create cultures of inclusion and belonging, foster collaboration and teamwork, and prioritize building trusted relationships.  

How to get started: 

  • Allow space for employee feedback and comments. Then, listen. Commit to clear and concise communication in response to worker concerns, and explain your decision-making process. 

  • Model authenticity by prioritizing regular feedback and check-ins. 

  • Encourage and support participation in associations, cooperatives, unions and other professional development opportunities. 

  • Be intentional about building teams and consider flexible work schedules. 

Work-Life Harmony  

Build trust with your workforce by recognizing that your employees are not just their role within the company. Acknowledge that they have priorities outside of work.  

Did you know? 

The U.S. remains the only advanced economy in the OECD that does not require paid medical and family leave to its workforce 3. It’s the least accessible benefit, available to only 23% of civilian workers overall, and only 7% of workers in the bottom 10% wage category. 

 How to get started: 

  • Increase employee control over how, when and where work is done. 

  • Create family friendly policies such as hybrid work and flexible start/end times, recognizing that caregiving outside of work falls disproportionately on women.  

  • Respect boundaries between work and home, and model behavior by limiting digital communication outside of work hours. 

  • Make schedules as flexible and predictable as possible.  

  • Increase access to paid leave.

Mattering at Work 

Build a culture of gratitude and recognition, and help employees connect with the organizational mission. 

Did you know?

Wage is a significant social determinant of health and wellbeing 4.

How to get started: 

  • Provide a living wage. 

  • Empower your workers to engage in workplace decision making to increase enthusiasm and commitment. Encourage participation on committees and utilize engagement surveys. 

  • Measure employee engagement to hold leaders accountable. Add metrics to your strategic plan and scorecards. 

  • Verbally express your appreciation for team members consistently. Recognize outstanding work and create an award program if you don’t have one! 

  • Align employee position descriptions with strategic organizational goals. 

  • Ask the question: What matters to you? 

Opportunity for Growth  

Encourage employee development and learning to create a sense of accomplishment at work.  

How to get started: 

  • Offer access to quality training, education and mentoring to increase skills and opportunities for education outside of work. 

  • Communicate transparent career pathways and opportunities. Offer career navigation support, coaching, tuition reimbursement and English language courses. 

  • Ensure relevant, reciprocal feedback by engaging genuinely with your team. Include the opportunity for your employees to offer feedback about YOUR performance. 

Final Thoughts

As your organizations continue to adjust to the changing dynamics of a modern workforce, fostering healthy workplaces ultimately ties productivity to employee wellness.  

Let the John Glenn College of Public Affairs be your partner in creating a healthy workforce. Tell us your opportunities for improvement and ask how we can help. 

Additional Resources
  1. U.S. Surgeon General. (2022). Workplace Well-Being.  
  2. Mind Share Partners. (2021). 2021 Mental health at work report – the stakes have been raised.  
  3. Equitable Growth. (2021, April 23). Factsheet: What does the research say about the economics of paid leave? Retrieved from: 
  4. World Health Organization. (n.d.). Social Determinants of Health. Retrieved from: