The majority of people in leadership roles have heard the phrase “People are your best asset,” and many would agree this is true. Without dedicated, hard-working employees, a business never runs as smoothly as it could. That being said, management teams need to find ways to keep employees happy and prevent a pattern of “quiet quitting,” but how can this be done? In a 2021 study by Harvard Business Review, 91% of respondents said that companies should place at least some focus on mental health, and implementing strategies to address this may be where leaders can start to improve the overall dealership culture and retain great employees.
1. Do Things to Eliminate the Stigma Around Mental Health
First and foremost, while the prevalence of the stigma of mental health is declining, it still definitely exists. Getting rid of the stigma at your dealership can make employees more satisfied and more likely to stay and do their best work. A good place for leaders to start is to actually share their own mental health challenges, if applicable.
Leaders often try to act “tough” and “untouchable,” but a significant portion of them report they face the same types of mental health challenges that lower-level managers and employees do. Therefore, being open about this can make employees struggling with their own mental health challenges feel less shame if they do need to take a personal day or step out of the office for a few hours.
That said, management teams can implement a one-time or recurring meeting to openly share their experiences with their employees (to the extent they are comfortable). Oftentimes, employees report that they are grateful for these, as it makes them feel more understood and like they can relate to the “higher-ups.”
Of course, nobody should be forced to engage in a conversation about his or her mental health, but many employees tend to open up about their own once leadership shares their challenges.
2. Training Programs
As mental health becomes a bigger factor in the workplace, it may be a good idea to offer trainings geared specifically towards it. For employees who need to discuss their mental health with management but are hesitant to do so, there are trainings available that will teach them how to talk to leadership while feeling more comfortable and less nervous about “looking bad.” There are also many therapists who focus on mental health in the workplace, and having one of them come in to give a presentation about stress management and other mental health matters can be very informative and useful. Managers and executives can also take various courses separately that teach the skills needed to support their employees and their mental health.
3. Offer More Opportunities that Increase Connectedness
Many employees report being bored with their jobs. They feel like the work is repetitive, mundane, and super monotonous. This can undoubtedly lead to burnout and depression, so finding ways to offer more opportunities within employees’ roles (if desired) may be a good way of making their work experience more positive. Many people are eager to learn in general, and testing out new responsibilities could even lead employees to finding things they truly enjoy and would like to focus on within their roles.
One activity that can be done to alleviate the boredom obstacle is to give employees the option to shadow one another. Many of us have been intrigued by what one or more of our coworkers spend every workday doing, but we don’t have the option to sit down and actually connect with them about it. A lot of employees may be intrigued at the idea of half-day or full-day shadowing with someone else, so it may be worth it for leaders to ask for their employees’ input on this.
4. Team Building Activities
Workplace studies typically find that many employees feel disconnected from their teams and therefore have reduced motivation to do a good job, so team building activities may be a good idea. Some employees are not fans of these activities, but a large portion of employees report that they enjoy them. These can range from fun activities like escape rooms, virtual happy hours, or participation in an event for a charitable cause. Making things even simpler, this could even just mean a brief walk outside so everyone can get some fresh air and connect with one another on a personal level. Meditation has also become increasingly popular throughout the past few years, and a group meditation session may also benefit some team members. Regardless, employees can connect with their coworkers while having fun, which can make the workplace a more enjoyable place for all.
5. Promote a Work-Life Balance
Poor work-life balance is directly linked to mental health and consistently one of the most reported reasons for employees quitting or wanting to quit. There has been a lot of buzz about this topic for many years, but never has it been more prominent since the start of the pandemic. Many employees were quickly forced to merge work duties with their home duties, which was very stressful, especially for those who had to work while also caring for children. The good news, however, is that many people gradually discovered it is possible to both succeed at their job and have lives outside of work – management teams just need to allow it and encourage it.
A lot of employees are nervous when they ask for time off, so management needs to let everyone know up front that it does not make them “look bad” and they are allowed to do it. Every dealership’s schedule is different but, if possible, management can also allow employees to take some time off, whether that be a full day or just an afternoon. Self-care during this time should be encouraged, regardless of what that looks like for different employees.
6. Reward Employees
Of course, most of the workforce would say that bonuses and more money would make them happier and more positive about their jobs, so offering these opportunities can make employees more satisfied. However, many dealerships do not have the financial freedom to support this, but finding other ways to make employees feel valued is extremely important.
Giving positive feedback, whether privately or publicly to the whole team, can really make employees feel seen and like they are appreciated, thus making them more likely to stay and do great work. Of course, this can be based on consistent good work overall or just a specific project or achievement. Small rewards like $5 gift cards, games, books, and other fun things everyone in the office can share can also be like rewards for the entire team. Ultimately, there are many mental health activities to promote a positive workplace, and dealerships just need to figure out the best ones for them.