Mental Health

Ways to make employee mental health a priority during a crisis

When was the last time you checked on your employee’s mental health? 

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that depression and anxiety cost the global economy $1 trillion per year in lost productivity. 

As a result of poor mental health, many people will either miss out on work or result in low productivity. This is why focusing on the employee’s mental health plays a crucial role in the bottom line. In today’s times especially during a global pandemic, paying significant importance to one’s mental health is critical. Keeping these shocking statistics in mind, employers should actively foster a positive work environment. While work should always be a source of joy and positivity, a negative work environment can have serious implications on the mental health of employees.

The top benefits of supporting the mental health of employees include:

  1. Better productivity rates
  2. Improved retention
  3. Decreased spending on healthcare programs

The first step of ensuring a conducive environment is to have an open-door policy and encourage dialogue between the employees and the stakeholder. There is a combination of factors that can lead to deterioration of health in the workplace, that include:

  1. Underlying stress at work
  2. Long work hours
  3. Poor work-life balance
  4. Bullying and harassment
  5. Negative work atmosphere
  6. Lack of appreciation and incentives
  7. Poor communication of expectations and deliverables
  8. Lack of general empathy

While prior to the pandemic many companies had already increased their mental health awareness programs, these efforts are more imperative today. A few steps that organizations can undertake to improve mental health in their organizations include:

  • Increase mental health awareness at work

Mental health has a tremendous effect on how we function in our daily lives. Managers should be trained to recognize the strain of emotional distress at work and provide the necessary support to employees. Make mental health training mandatory in the organization to help leaders become more invested and pragmatic in the entire process. The stress of work coupled with the ongoing pandemic has made it difficult for people to continue with work uninterrupted. Not everyone in the office is knowledgeable about mental health and may have some unfound perceptions. It is important to address these issues and sensitize the workplace to the importance of mental health.

  • Promote healthy-work life balance

A poor work-life balance is one of the biggest contributors to mental health issues at work. To create a healthy balance, incentivize good work, stress on paid time-off, lead by example, provide flexible scheduling at work, and promote policies that prioritize the mental health of employees. Improve work hours, automate key processes, reduce the workload on staff, and organize seminars that promote maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Having healthy policies that pay equal attention to the emotional and physical well-being of an individual improve job satisfaction levels. 

  • Be flexible and inclusive

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the mental health of many and impacted our lives socially, physically, and mentally. As businesses had to take drastic measures like laying off or furloughing employees, the impact was more severe on employees as uncertainty over the situation bred further anxiety. In these difficult times, it is important to express solidarity with those suffering and be more flexible. Address the stress factors, and take appropriate measures to mitigate stress and anxiety. Check in regularly- and don’t just make assumptions. Being accommodating doesn’t necessarily mean lowering standards or expecting less productivity- it means allowing workers to work at their own pace, create their own schedules while contributing proactively to the success of the company. 

  • Invest in training programs

Remember that shame and stigma often discourages employees to share mental health issues at work which is why it becomes important to break that conditioning. Organizing training programs normalize mental health issues and educate the staff to treat such issues more delicately. Training programs help in sensitizing staff, debunking mental health myths, reduce the associated stigma, and develop necessary skills to have productive conversations with employees. Maintain an open-door policy and encourage dialogue. If you do not have the necessary funds to invest in a training program, then distribute mental health resources to educate staff and offer peer support. Either way, it is essential to educate each employee along with the leadership on the importance of mental health.

Leaders in the organization including managers need to be clear about the policies governing mental health concerns in the workplace. Training them will help them recognize the signs of distress faster and lead to quick and empathetic resolution of issues. Focusing on mental health at the workplace forms an essential part of employee care. Mental wellness is a delicate topic that has to be discussed with care and discretion should be maintained. The pandemic has been a challenging time with different implications for everyone. Poor mental health can negatively impact performance, affecting the bottom line. Therefore, organizations should take appropriate measures to improve the mental health of employees, especially during such distressing times.

About Paylite HRMS

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