5 ways to support mental health at work - A guide for employers

March 26, 2021

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Mental health conditions are associated with "disability and premature death", according to the World Health Organization

The same organisation states that depression is one of the leading cause of disability worldwide. Worse, it can lead to suicide. 

As a result, companies are urged to implement employee-first policies that promote their employees' physical and mental wellbeing. 

Supporting mental health at work not only improves your employees’ overall wellbeing, in return, your organisation's bottom line and productivity increases. Even better, your healthcare costs will reduce too. 

Here are 5 statistics to show how employers have benefited from employee wellness:

  1. 63% of employers with wellness programs reported increased financial sustainability and growth.
  2. Companies with comprehensive health and wellness plans are 40% more likely to report better financial performance than less-comprehensive companies. 
  3. 60% of employers said that workplace wellness programs reduced their organisation's health care costs.
  4. The company saves $5.82 in lower employee absenteeism costs for every dollar spent.
  5. Companies offering employee engagement programs enjoy 233% higher customer loyalty.

Your organisation can be one of them too. Your HR professionals can be at the forefront of positive change for workplace culture. 

Here are 5 practical mental health initiatives to support your employees.

1. Provide mental health awareness training to all employees 

In today's world, there is a lot of pressure on people to achieve the bare minimum. There is always more to do and less time, leading to multiple mental health conditions such as depression, chronic anxiety, and sleep apnea.

But the truth is, employees don't feel supported by their employers when they have mental health issues.

That's why companies are orchestrating efforts to reduce the stigma and provide support for mental health at work — starting by providing mental health awareness training.

Before you roll out any mental health support initiatives, your employees need to know what mental health is all about and how it is affecting their lives. 

When they are aware of the problem, they can then start accepting the solution you provide.

Here's what basic mental health awareness training usually entails:

  • Definition of mental health and mental illnesses
  • Causes & Symptoms
  • Busting the myths and stigma around mental health
  • Common mental health disorders
  • Ways to cure or cope with symptoms
  • Support provided by the employer

2. Offer employee assistance programs (EAPs) for those who need help with their mental wellbeing

You may want to consider offering employee assistance programs (EAPs). An EAP is an employee support initiative that provides resources for people dealing with personal issues that affect their work-life, such as marital, financial, or emotional problems. 

EAP may also offer a broad range of services covering mental health support, adoption assistance, wellness programs, therapy, coaching, and more.

Here are some tips to create a strong EAP:

  • Assess your employees' needs and determine whether they need an EAP or not. 
  • Obtain referrals for diagnosis and treatment of mental health, substance use, other issues, and consultation services for managers and supervisors.
  • Provide training to teach managers to recognise and possibly resolve mental health-related performance issues.
  • Educate employees about healthy weight, stress management, smoking cessation, and other mental health conditions.

Tip: Not sure whether EAP is right for you? Read this complete guide to learn about EAP delivery models, critical requirements, choosing a vendor, and more

3. Encourage employees to take breaks when they are feeling overwhelmed or stressed out

Your employees are the heart of your business. If they aren't happy, chances are, your customers won't be either. 

When your employees feel overwhelmed and stressed out, it can cause their productivity to suffer and even lead to burnout. 

It is essential for you, in today's competitive market, to provide a work environment that encourages effective coping strategies among your workers.

Otherwise, you might face the consequences of lost productivity, lower loyalty rates, higher employee turnover and poor engagement with customers. 

The most important thing you can do to support your employees’ mental health at work is to offer flexible schedules so that they can take time off when feeling overwhelmed or stressed without worrying about their position in the company.

4. Create a safe workplace culture that is supportive of everyone's needs

This is crucial for the future of any organisation and especially essential in an industry that requires empathy. 

It can be easy to fall into the rut of creating policies and procedures that fit your needs instead of what is best for your employees. 

Several studies have been done on organisational happiness, and most show that happy employees are more productive than their unhappy counterparts.

The question is, how do you create a safe and supportive workplace culture? Here are 5 tips to help you get started:

  • Train managers to be good listeners by showing empathy and understanding of their subordinates. 
  • Create a safe, private space for employees to share their deepest thoughts and feelings without fear of judgement.
  • Allow employees to take time off when they need it without fear of retribution.
  • Offer flexible work schedules so people can balance their work-life with things like school, family obligations, and personal interests.
  • Have clear guidelines on how to handle conflicts and mental health-related issues in the workplace.

5. Offer training to help employees manage stress

In a recent survey, 40% of employees reported that they feel stressed during work hours. The fact is, workplace stress can affect the bottom line for companies. When workers are experiencing chronic stress in their jobs, productivity and efficiency suffer.

Therefore, finding ways to manage stress is essential not only for employee performance but also to avoid financial losses arising from absenteeism and high turnovers.

But the problem is, most employees don't know how to manage their own stress effectively.

Employers can educate their employees on how they can manage stress more effectively and in a healthier way. 

Here are 7 examples you can do to help your employees manage stress better:

  • Encourage employees to go on a walk during breaks 
  • Hold onsite or online yoga or meditation classes
  • Offer healthy snacks in the office
  • Create more social activity (physical and virtual)
  • Implement "No Meeting Mondays" or any day of the week
  • Provide onsite and online counselling
  • Praise your employees for a job well done

About Mednefits:

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