The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a mental health crisis in the labor workforce, resulting in a rise in depression, mood disorders, and stress. The sudden shift from working in an office to working remotely while adhering to social distancing guidelines has impacted employee mental health across in the workplace.
The Harvard Business Review recently conducted a study and discovered that “75% of employees feel more socially isolated as a result of coronavirus, with 67% experiencing higher stress levels, 57% feeling more anxious, and 53% dealing with greater emotional exhaustion.”
Companies are becoming increasingly concerned about employee mental health in the wake of the post-pandemic mental health crisis. An employee’s mental health has a direct effect on their job performance. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people with depression claim that they can only function at 70% of their potential performance level.
In addition to the direct impact on job performance, there is also an indirect cost that companies incur when they lose an employee due to poor mental health. This loss of productivity can lead to a domino effect that impacts other employees, who are forced to pick up the slack for their co-worker’s absence.
To support employee mental health, businesses need to invest in and promote workplace mental health programs. All employees should have access to comprehensive mental health insurance and counseling services. In addition to offering wellness services, companies should create an open environment regarding mental health.
How Companies Can Promote Mental Health in the Workplace
1.Promote Mental Health Awareness in the Office
Companies must create a safe work environment for employees to disclose their mental health issues by promoting mental health resources and openly discussing mental health in the office. Host monthly workshops to encourage conversations around employee well-being and provide paid counseling services for all employees. When companies promote mental health, it makes employees feel comfortable seeking help.
Here are some proactive steps you can take to promote mental health in the workplace.
- Promote company wellness services throughout the office
- Send out a monthly wellness newsletter
- Create a mental health support group
- Ensure your HR team and managers discuss the importance of mental health in the workplace.
2. Measure Mental Wellness in the Workplace
Businesses should conduct surveys to assess their workers’ emotional health. These surveys will help companies better understand the mental health issues within their organization. WellCheck, a health and wellness platform, helps businesses conduct wellness screenings to understand the primary stressors of employees.
Companies can partner with WellCheck to build customizable online behavioral health surveys for their organizations. The information gathered from these surveys will help companies create enhanced well-being resources and treatment services for their employees.
3. Reduce Workplace Stress
Many employees feel overwhelmed due to long work hours, heavy workloads, and the pressure to perform at an optimal level. According to the American Institute of Stress, 40% of American employees revealed their jobs are very stressful.
Businesses should develop workplace policies to reduce stress and help employees achieve a healthy work-life balance. Here are a few suggestions for ways to accomplish this:
- Schedule flexible shifts, allow remote work, and offer half-day Fridays during summer.
- Managers should meet with employees weekly to review workload and stress levels and encourage open communication.
- Bring your team together with weekly team-building activities or dinners to boost morale and reduce stress.
4. Promote Wellness and a Healthy Lifestyle
Make wellness resources easily accessible for all employees with onsite and virtual health services. Here are a few types of wellness services companies should offer:
- Provide access to an onsite wellness clinic, counseling services, and mental health hotlines.
- Create a monthly wellness event program featuring meditation, yoga, and wellness workshops.
- Encourage employees to take breaks during the day to go on a walk or a bike ride.
- Offer your employees access to health apps to help improve stress and anxiety levels.
- Consider creating meditation and relaxation rooms.
Educating your employees on mental health is the first step to breaking down the negative stigma around mental health. Host a quarterly workshop training managers on recognizing mental health symptoms and effectively addressing employees regarding their mental health issues. It’s essential to train managers to identify mental health signs such as stress, excessive worry, difficulty concentrating, and fatigue.
Furthermore, businesses should train managers on how to have conversations with employees about their mental health. Educating managers on how to have these hard conversations will make the workplace more welcoming and reduce the number of mental health cases.