Last April, in the midst of the pandemic, 45% of the adults claimed that worry about the pandemic had a negative effect on their mental health. Between the stress of positive Covid tests, uncertainty in the future, isolation, extreme cabin fever, total workplace disruptions, grief, and COVID’s brutal effect on our economy, this should come at no surprise.
It’s been….a year. And, while you may be busy enough just trying to keep your business afloat, it’s more important than ever to check in on your employees’ wellbeing.
Many workplaces are now creating safe spaces and opportunities to support employees’ mental health. For example, Nike closed their corporate office for week-long mental health week. Matt Morazzo, Senior Manager in Oregon Nike, says “It’s not just a ‘week off’ for the team … It’s an acknowledgment that we can prioritize mental health and still get work done.”
Supporting your employees’ mental health leads to increased rates of innovation, higher levels of productivity, better customer service and more positive interactions with co-workers. Here are some ways you can get started:
1. Establishing Transparency
Michelle Tenzyko, CEO of management consulting firm, East Tenth Group, says “When leaders are willing to come forward and speak openly about their experience, it really helps bring the walls down.” Establishing transparency can create an open environment that is supportive and reassuring for your people.
2. Actively Listen
Now that you have established transparency in your workplace to talk about mental health, listen! Actively listening to your employees let’s them know that you are putting them first. These conversations are exposing vulnerability that will ultimately make your relationships stronger and make your team more powerful.
3. Educate Others
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 5 adults will experience a mental condition in a given year. It is important for everyone on your team to empathize with their peers who may experience mental health challenges. Educating yourself and your workplace about different mental health conditions opens the environment for more conversation, and understanding.
4. Wellness Benefits
Make sure your employees are aware of any specific benefits or resources that your business may help them with. These may include flexible work schedules, mental health days off, or discounted gym memberships. If your company doesn’t include these wellness provisions you might consider adding them or others to enhance employee support.
5. Invest in EAPs (Employee Assistance Programs)
When someone is experiencing hardships such as divorce, sickness, or debt, there are EAPs that your company/organization may offer. According to SHRM, an EAP gives employees access to expert, confidential assistance for substance abuse issues, relationship troubles, financial problems, and mental health conditions. These services are offered through an outside provider that connects employees with the appropriate resources and professionals. These programs enable you to provide professional assistance to employees while allowing them confidentiality at work.
According to SHRM, an employee’s health status directly influences employee work behavior, work attendance and on-the-job performance. Developing healthier employees will result in a more productive workforce. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that for every dollar put into treatment for common mental illnesses, there is a return of four dollars in improved health and productivity. Clearly having an open, empathetic, and supportive workplace benefits everyone.