(BPT) - No matter your exact role in an organization, especially in small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), workdays can be stressful. For IT professionals at resource-constrained SMEs, every day brings new challenges and new stressors. You probably have a plan for everything - what to do if a server goes down, how to make sure employees have access to critical work resources, incident response plans for worst-case scenarios ... but amid the busyness and intensity that comes with a role in IT, what's your plan to protect your mental wellness? What are the solutions? Mental health is a complex state of being affected by multiple variables, both in and out of the workplace.
To help promote mental well-being for IT professionals and others throughout your organization, it's crucial that everyone is offered the resources and encouragement to engage in self-care and positive work practices so everyone can thrive.
The state of mental health among IT administrators
One of the more stressful roles in any SME is that of IT administrator. In a recent survey by CIO Insight, nearly 8 in 10 IT admins (77%) described their jobs as stressful, 1 in 4 said they've experienced a stress-related illness because of work, and nearly one-fourth (23%) said they clock 8-12 hours of unpaid overtime every week.
For IT admins or any other positions similarly meeting frequent deadlines, managing complicated systems, supervising teams or assisting clients, stress is bound to arise - and can lead to burnout over time. While how you're feeling may not be a comfortable topic in the workplace due to stigma regarding mental health, there are ways your company can encourage and promote wellness among employees.
How to reduce stress
To help employees better cope with stress and avoid burnout, here are proactive steps SMEs can take.
1. Encourage empathy
Understanding that everyone has mental health needs is a positive first step toward being kinder to others, and to yourself. For example, scheduling back-to-back meetings all day may not be the best use of any worker's time - and doesn't allow for any reflection of what's been shared, much less giving employees a sense of control over their day. Then recognize that when someone needs a moment to take a few deep breaths before handling a difficult situation, it does not mean they're avoiding the problem - it means they'll tackle the problem with an attitude that is much more calm, collected and rational.
2. Recognize the importance of breaks
Taking brief moments throughout the day for some deep breathing, a meditation app or getting outside for a short walk are crucial for maintaining a healthier mental (and physical) state, which will ultimately lead to more productivity - and a lot less stress and burnout.
3. Say goodbye to the "power through" culture
While corporate culture often celebrates those who "soldier on" despite exhaustion, this mindset is not sustainable. Ensuring that everyone is recognized for their contributions rather than their willingness to burn the midnight oil will go a long way toward preventing a stressful environment.
4. Help employees discover what supports their mental health
For some employees, camaraderie of peers and frequent social opportunities feeds their sense of well-being. For others, a quiet, calm work environment is what they need to thrive. Proven practices to help boost anyone's overall well-being include:
- getting enough sleep
- eating well
- breaks from screen time
- listening to classical music
- practicing mindfulness
What can your company do to help ensure everyone has the ability to care for themselves through these practices?
5. Encourage everyone to use company resources
One underutilized resource is the employee assistance program, which offers a variety of resources to help employees cope with their concerns. Other resources include their healthcare benefits, which may provide access to mental health services. Reminding everyone that these services are available could be just the encouragement someone needs to use them.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis and needs immediate help, don't wait. Call 911 if you or someone you know is in immediate danger, or go to the nearest emergency room. Additional resources:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
- Crisis Text Line: Text HELLO to 741741.
- Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1 or text 838255.
To learn more on how to prioritize your mental wellness and uncover mindfulness strategies, join JumpCloud's Tom Bridge and noted meditation expert Alexis Santos for a live event on May 18 to learn daily strategies you can use to bolster your mental health, and participate in a 5-minute meditation to help you refocus and re-center. Visit JumpCloud.com/resources/mindfulness-strategies-for-it-mental-wellness to register.