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November 10, 2020

4 Ways Employers Can Support Employee Mental Health

An employee’s mental wellbeing should always be a priority for employers; however, amid today’s turbulent times, people are struggling more than usual and employers must respond accordingly.

A study from the Mental Health in the Workplace Summit found that mental illness is the leading cause of disability for U.S. adults aged 15 to 44 and that more workdays are lost to mental health-related absenteeism than any other injury or illness. Given its prevalence, it’s of utmost importance that your organization creates a culture that supports employee mental health.

Here are four simple ways your company can support employee mental health.

1.  Promote Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace – Onsite & Remotely

The first step to creating a workplace that is supportive of employee mental health is promoting awareness and destigmatizing mental health and illness. Provide resources to help employees learn more about mental health and illnesses and, more importantly, provide information as to how employees who are struggling can get help. You can also support mental health in the workplace by:

  • Encouraging social support among employees, such as an organized support group that meets regularly. In today’s environment, these can be conducted via video conference or in a socially distanced meeting (if your business is legally allowed to do so).
  • Setting up an anonymous portal through which employees can let HR or managers know that they’re struggling and need help.
  • Providing training on problem solving, effective communication and conflict resolution.
  • Promoting your Employee Assistance Program (EAP), if you offer one.

2.  Offer Flexible Scheduling

Work-life balance, or a lack thereof, can affect an employee’s mental health. To help employees better balance their work and personal lives, employers across the country are embracing workplace flexibility – more so now than ever as so many employees are juggling their jobs with home schooling and caregiving. While this looks different at every company, workplace flexibility can include flextime, telecommuting and unlimited paid time off (PTO) policies. Flexible schedules provide employees with job satisfaction, better health and less stress.

3.  Address Workplace Stress

Stress has skyrocketed as a result of COVID-19. Chronic workplace stress can contribute to increased employee fatigue and health problems, and decreased productivity and engagement. Common job stressors include job insecurity (especially high amid the pandemic), a heavy workload, intense pressure to perform at high levels, long work hours, office politics and conflicts with coworkers. While it may not be possible to eliminate job stress altogether, you can help employees learn how to manage it effectively.

Consider these strategies to help reduce employee stress, which can improve health, morale, engagement and productivity:

  • Make sure workloads are appropriate.
  • Have managers meet regularly – in person or virtually – with employees to facilitate communication.
  • Address negative and illegal actions in the workplace immediately.
  • Do not tolerate bullying, discrimination or any other similar behaviors.
  • Recognize and celebrate employee success. This improves morale and decreases stress.

4.  Evaluate Your Benefits Offerings

Review the benefits you offer to ensure they support mental wellbeing. Evaluate your current health plan designs to ensure they cover mental health services.

Are your benefits offerings competitive? Check out the “2020 Employee Benefits Benchmark Report” to find out.

Similarly, look to see what voluntary benefits you can offer to support mental wellbeing. Consider offering simple perks like financial planning assistance (as financial stress often contributes to poor mental health), employee discount programs (where employees can receive gym memberships, stress-reducing massages or acupuncture at a lower cost) and EAPs.

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