Addressing Mental Health in the Workplace

August 5, 2020

Whether you are working from home or continuing to work from an office, the COVID-19 pandemic has probably affected the way you work. Anxiety and fear over this new virus can become overwhelming, and cause employees to become stressed and burnt out. How employers choose to cope with these emotions and stress can affect the overall well-being of their workforce.

According to the CDC, mental health disorders are among the most burdensome health concerns in the United States. Nearly 1 in 5 US adults age 18 or older reported a mental illness. Reports of mental health issues continue to rise as a result of the on-going pandemic.

Considering how much time an average employee spends working, fostering wellness in the workplace is a no-brainer. Mental health issues can have a negative impact on businesses and their employees. Poor mental health and stress can negatively affect employees by decreasing job performance, productivity, and engagement. It may also result in poor communication and interfere on an employee’s physical capability.

As employers increasingly realize that their actions in the workplace can have a direct effect on the well-being and health of their employees, which in turn, impacts their organization they are finding that improving well-being makes good business sense.

Employers that invest in their employee’s well-being can build and sustain better well-being over time and are able to achieve even greater benefits in terms of reduced healthcare costs as well as greater productivity and performance. According to Accenture research, employees who work for businesses that prioritize mental health are two times more likely to enjoy their job and stay with the company longer.

Unfortunately, far too many businesses shy away from addressing this issue head-on and employees are often afraid of discussing their problems with their co-workers and bosses. Employees may feel they are jeopardizing their job, damaging relationships, or risking future employers learning of illness and judging them. The stigma surrounding mental illness often keeps employees silent.

So what can employers do to address and promote awareness about the importance of mental health and stress management in their workforce? 

Here are four (4) helpful tips: 

  1. Offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP): An employer-sponsored employee assistance program is a work-based intervention program designed to identify and assist employees in resolving personal problems that might be adversely affecting their performance at work. Offering an EAP provides a free and confidential resource for your employees to get counseling and consultation on a wide range of topics including emotional wellbeing, relationships and parenting, health and wellness, financial, legal, personal and professional growth. Most EAP programs even offer a confidential 24/7 call-in support hotline, so employees have an easy, fast, and convenient way to get the support they need.
  2. Communicate & Train: Offering mental health training programs teaches participates how to identify and support an individual who may be experiencing a mental health crisis. These trainings teach employees how to connect a distressed person with the appropriate resources, in accordance with company policies. Online courses can be made available for those working from home.  By effectively communicating and promoting the importance of mental health to employees, companies can reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. Maintaining a dialogue and conversation about wellness issues creates a culture of openness where employees feel comfortable approaching their managers with concerns about work-life, well-being, and stress issues.
  3. Offer Quiet Space: Not only is it important for employees to relax, but it is important they feel they have a place they can go to do so.Having a dedicated quiet room gives employees a place to recharge and the opportunity to deal with stress without feeling like they are being watched or judged by people around them. If you have employees working from home, encourage them to take breaks by going outside or creating a designated “work-free zone” at home.
  4. Create a Culture of Wellbeing: Investing in workplace wellness initiatives that encourage a healthy lifestyle, including exercise and healthy eating habits helps reduce employee stress and communicates the message that well-being is important to your organization. Exercise and healthy eating habits are essential to stress relief and metabolizing cortisol, the stress hormone. If employees are working long hours while balancing a busy family life at home, offering access to a fitness center and healthy food choices can go a long way. Employers can also choose to offer a more flexible schedule that allows employees more time to devote on improving their well-being.

Addressing the importance of mental health and empowering your team with the tools and resources to better manage stress in the workplace, will help your organization create a lasting positive change in your employee’s overall well-being.

At SourcePointe, we partner with ESPYR to provide our clients and their team members with a comprehensive Employee Assistance Program. Our dedicated team of HR specialists work directly with you to increase performance, productivity, and engagement by developing trainings and resources to promote a culture of wellbeing in your organization.

If you would like to learn more on the ways we can help your business, contact us today.

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