Cultivating Well-Being: Proactive Measures Landscape Companies Can Implement for Employee Mental Health - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Cultivating Well-Being: Proactive Measures Landscape Companies Can Implement for Employee Mental Health

Mental health includes a person’s emotional, psychological and social well-being, which affects how they think, feel and act. When your team members are struggling with their mental health, it can significantly impact your lawn or landscape business.

If you are experiencing a high turnover rate, absenteeism, or burnout within your team, these can be symptoms of poor mental health in the workplace.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, unresolved depression accounts for a 35% reduction in productivity. Individuals struggling with anxiety and chronic stress can also fail to fully show up to work reducing efficiency and increasing the likelihood of mistakes. Mental health issues can also make it harder for your team to be creative and solve problems.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and you might be uncertain how you can go about supporting your employees’ mental well-being. However, there are a number of actionable steps you can take to prioritize the mental health of your team.

Foster a Positive Work Environment

One straightforward way to help with your team’s mental health is to create a workplace that is open, respectful and positive.

Ideal Landscape Group focuses on hiring people who have a good attitude so they can maintain their positive atmosphere.

“A good attitude and a good work ethic are two things that you can control every single day,” says Silas Dill, director of operations for Ideal Landscape Group. “You can’t control your experience; that takes time.”

Taking the time to recognize your employees regularly and thank them for their hard work is significant. Not only can it boost morale, but it can also encourage camaraderie and reduce the feeling of isolation.

“That might be their one touch point that they get to hear that they’re appreciated, that people respect them because they’re craftsmen and they should be appreciated for their work,” says Patrick Murray, managing partner of Local Roots Landscaping. “They may never get to hear that when they go home.”

It’s also important to normalize the conversations around mental health so your employees feel comfortable sharing and seeking help. Train your managers to recognize when a team member is struggling and how to approach them with concern. Encourage your employees to look out for one another and ask if there is anything troubling if they seem off.

“Facial expressions and body language tell you quite a bit about a person,” Murray says. “I’m very open about saying like, ‘Hey, Mark, you don’t look great right now. What’s going on here?’ Nine times out of 10, they’re like, ‘Yeah, I’m wearing a bit of stress right now.’ I’d say like, ‘Do you want to talk about that stress?’”

Improve Work-Life Balance

Burnout can be a major challenge in the landscape industry due to frequently demanding schedules. Improving the work-life balance at your business can help with retention and overall employee satisfaction.

Look at your operations and see if there are ways to offer flexible scheduling to your employees. Talk with your team to determine what makes sense for your company and what they would like to try. This could be anything from having summer Fridays, moving to a 9/80 schedule or having four-day workweeks during certain parts of the year.

“For some employees, it allowed them to pick up a part-time job if they wanted,” says Bill Gardocki, former owner of Interstate Landscape. “Some decided to take their children out of daycare on Fridays, which saved them daycare costs and gave them more time with their children. The four-day week gave the employees a mental and physical break from their job. For us as the employer, it basically eliminated overtime and the costs associated with overtime.”

If you offer PTO benefits, encourage your employees to take advantage of this time off and unplug. Examine your culture and make sure it’s not commending workaholic behaviors, as other team members will feel pressured not to take off or work during their time off.

Instead, promote and support setting boundaries with clients. Discourage after-hour work calls and emails unless absolutely necessary so your staff can have separation between their work and personal lives.

Offer Resources and Support

Another way to support your staff is to provide mental health resources like Employee Assistant Programs (EAPs), which offer confidential counseling and resources for personal and work-related issues.

Stress to your employees that these resources are confidential and personalized so they will feel more comfortable seeking help. Being transparent about your own efforts as a leader to maintain your mental health can aid in showing you take it seriously.

You can also provide access to stress-reduction techniques and training.

Depending on the structure of your business, you may even be able to offer paid mental health days. Emphasize these are important for self-care and should be used similarly to sick leave.

Removing the stigma around mental health is an ongoing journey, but making the effort to prioritize it in your workplace can help employees see how much you care about their overall well-being.

If you are looking for additional mental health resources, click here.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.