According to Corporate Wellness Magazine, 84% of workers have experienced mental health problems in the last year. Like becoming physically unwell, employees can experience bouts of mental illness, or they may have longer-term issues. Mental health can affect a person’s job, and vice versa, so it’s important for employers to know how to navigate these issues sensitively and effectively.
It’s challenging for businesses to keep up morale when faced with these issues. In fact, 81% of Gen Z and 68% of millennials who left their jobs last year did so for mental health-related reasons. So, morale aside, it’s in the best interest of employers to do something about the mental health epidemic.
What can businesses do? Here’s how to support your employees’ mental health at work.
Source: Corporate Wellness Magazine
What Should Businesses Do?
Mental health can negatively affect employee performance at work 📉. On a more human level, you never want to see your employees suffer.
That said, mental health is a challenging issue. There’s no cut-and-dry method for dealing with it because it looks different in everyone. Furthermore, everyone deals with their mental health differently.
That said, there are things that businesses in all industries can do to support their employees when challenges arise. Employers should make an effort to put the required assistance in place. This includes fostering an environment where employees feel able to talk about their mental health if they choose to, without putting pressure on them to do so.
You can also reduce the risk of mental health issues arising by reducing stress on your employees.
9 Ways to Improve Employee Wellbeing
Here are nine ways employers can support their employees to reduce the risk of mental health issues and assist workers when issues arise.
1. Structured Support System
Sometimes, life happens. Whether it’s bereavement, financial stress, or mental illness, some struggles are unavoidable. When these issues arise, it’s important that employees know where to turn.
Make sure managers and team leaders know how to handle these conversations with their team members. Provide a framework for the conversation, with training so that managers know how to address the issue and if they need to inform anyone else.
Furthermore, arrange periodic 1-to-1s, creating a chance for employees to bring up any issues. It’s important that they feel safe to do so.
2. Look For Signs ⚠️
When handling mental health conditions, it’s essential to catch them early. Businesses and employees should learn the warning signs of employee distress. It’s also crucial to learn how to respond when a worker discloses a mental health issue.
HR teams and managers should be trained and reminded about these warning signs. That way, when an issue arises, it can be addressed quickly before it escalates.
3. Create a Schedule and Leave Requests Flexibly 📆
Stress is a big part of mental health. Having flexible work options gives employees the space they need to work on their own terms, leading to better productivity. 92% of millennials have identified flexibility as a key factor when job hunting, so it’s vital to provide it if you want employees to be satisfied and stick around.
Source: Equality Human Rights
You should consider:
- Allowing employees to work from home, at least optionally
- Providing flexibility for appointments, childcare, and personal emergencies
- Providing leave for employees with mental health issues
Employees who are over-worked and undervalued may experience burnout. This negatively affects productivity, morale, and can lead to high turnover rates.
Consider implementing software like Tommy 🐶 to help with scheduling.
4. Implement Employee Assistance Programs 👷♀️
Many employers provide employee assistance programs that help workers resolve issues. This can include signing up for employee therapy programs to help them self-regulate and cope with stress.
Some businesses even have programs that help employees deal with alcohol or substance abuse, child or elder care, financial or legal issues, and traumatic occurrences.
5. Bring People Together 🫂
Social interaction has a positive effect on psychological wellbeing. Finding a way to bring the team together is essential, especially if your team often works from home.
Employers should find ways to hold regular meetings, either in-person or online. This keeps everyone in the loop and also gives them a chance to interact. Aside from formal meetings, it’s great to encourage more relaxed chats. Consider virtual coffee meetings for employees who work from home.
In-person, you can foster a positive work environment with team-building exercises and socials. You should make participation voluntary to prevent people from being pressured.
Social interaction is beneficial to one’s psychological well-being. Managers should find ways to hold regular meetings with their teams, either electronically or in person, if time and resources allow.
6. Revise Current Workloads 📝
If employees are pushed to capacity at all times, they can easily become burned out. Managers should be aware of workloads and given time to manage the tasks of their team members.
Be prepared to make temporary or situation-specific adjustments related to people’s schedules. Planning software can help you visualize tasks and make quick adjustments.
7. Provide Counseling 🗣
Many firms are starting to provide counseling as a regular part of their employee benefits. It helps to ensure workers are mentally healthy, whether they have specific problems or not. You can sign up for virtual counselling for employees with software like Spill, or hire someone for your HR department.
Again, participation should be optional so that nobody feels forced.
Source: The Human Capital Hub
8. Set a Good Example ✅
Managers can influence staff to prioritize their health and wellbeing by setting a good example. It’s important to take allocated time off, encourage open communication, and update your team on your own efforts to maintain your health.
When the company introduces new wellness initiatives, make sure to spread the word to your employees, too!
9. Create Vital Wellness Programs 🏃♀️
Wellness programs can help employees develop coping mechanisms. They often cover many areas of life, from physical health to financial literacy. With these programs, your employees can learn how to work effectively and cope with stress.
Make sure your staff are aware of any programs and encouraged to use them.
Improving Staff Wellness
Businesses that invest in mental health initiatives see positive results, with fewer sick days taken, lower employee turnover, and higher rates of job satisfaction.
The workplace is a crucial battleground in the fight for mental health. As an employer, you can lead the charge and set the example.