Increased mental health priority in the workplace: 12 things managers learned so far
In one survey, 92% of CEOs said their businesses had increased focus on mental health after the pandemic.
What is one thing you’ve learned/taken away from the increased priority of mental health in your organization?
To help your workplace prioritize its employees’ mental health, we asked managers and HR professionals this question for their best strategies. From establishing a holistic employee wellness program to including psychotherapy in wellness initiatives, there are several ideas that may help you make mental health a priority in your workplace.
READ ALSO: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona commits $5 million to mental health
Here are 12 takeaways from the increased priority of mental health in the workplace:
- Establish a Holistic Employee Wellness Program
- Avoid Quick-Fixes & Aim for Long-Lasting Solutions
- Promote Employee Wellness Benefits to Boost Productivity
- Enforce Work/Life Balance by Switching Off
- Build a Strong Support System
- Don’t Offer a One-Size-Fits-All Health Program
- Remember that Progress & Results are Gradual
- Let Employees Know About Obligation-Free Mental Health Apps
- Offer a Mental Health Awareness Toolkit
- Foster an Environment for Healthy Conversations
- Include Psychotherapy in Wellness Initiatives
Establish a Holistic Employee Wellness Program
One thing I’ve taken away from this increased focus on mental health is that it isn’t separate in any way from our overall physical health. We tend to speak about mental health as its own thing, and sometimes forget to recognize that our mental health is just one aspect of our overall physical health. Of course it’s vital that we offer staff things like counseling, compassionate PTO policies and a safe, inclusive workplace, but teams who are physically healthy and active will find it much easier to manage both professional and personal stress and anxiety. That’s why establishing a holistic employee wellness program is the best way forward for improving the health of our teams.
Stephen Light, Nolah Mattress
Avoid Quick-Fixes & Aim for Long-Lasting Solutions
When an employee feels burnt out, stressed, or overworked, the solution is not to give them free access to a yoga platform or teach them how to meditate. What we’ve learned is that only by tackling the real issue will we find long-lasting solutions that truly make a positive impact on our employees’ mental health. Long-lasting solutions can be anything from the re-structure of our employees’ responsibilities to hiring new people to relieve the work from the rest of the team or allowing our employees to work flexible hours that accommodates their schedules.
Jessica Ulloa, MyPerfectResume
Promote Employee Wellness Benefits to Boost Productivity
Business owners are now reevaluating the impact employee mental health has on productivity. For instance, since the onset of the pandemic, unlimited time off, hybrid and remote work schedules, and even increased mental health benefits have all become more widely discussed across corporate industries. Increasing employee wellness benefits individual team members and the overall success of your business.
Breanne Millette, BISOULOVELY
Enforce Work/Life Balance by Switching Off
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is the importance of switching off. During the pandemic, working remotely made things a bit difficult to coordinate, that we would end up working over our scheduled hours. There was no respect for work/life balance as we had no life and knew that everyone was ‘stuck’ at home. This was misinterpreted as ‘available to work’ and ended up causing more stress, less boundaries and people who didn’t know when to switch off.
That’s when we started reminding people of working hours, the importance of switching off, taking PTO to relax and recharge, and having a consistent work/life balance with a system that forces you to clock out after a certain period. Learning to switch off also helped us focus on employee benefits, wellness programs and group activities that focus on improving mental health and employee wellbeing.
Michael Nemeroff, Rush Order Tees
Build a Strong Support System
If your employees aren’t healthy, neither is your business. The pandemic pushed our team to have conversations about the world or what might be happening in our families—we all quickly realized that work should have been this way all along. If an employee is going through something and not effectively supported, we are all impacted, and so is this business. There is no doubt that employee health equates to business health.
Cesar Cruz, Sebastian Cruz Couture
Don’t Offer a One-Size-Fits-All Health Program
As organizations start to prioritize mental health in their teams, they might have the urge to standardize it, to ensure that everyone is getting the same level of care across the board. However, mental health issues often require a spectrum of care that can include everything from generous time off to ensuring employer-sponsored insurance comes with additional support for those who need extra mental health support.
It’s important to provide all of these care options to your team so you can ensure that they’re able to be productive members of your team, and active participants in the workplace, and in their lives outside of work. Businesses should tailor their mental health needs to their specific workplace by meeting with team members and seeing what they need. That can help you really hone in on the kind of support you can and should be offering to best serve your employees.
Kyle Risley, Lift Vault
Remember that Progress & Results are Gradual
By prioritizing mental health even more in our organization after COVID, I can tell that you can recover fast and easily if your life is going well. That means if you’ve got a good job, a secure future, a healthy body, and the freedom to live how you want to live—I think that makes recovery easier. But that does not mean it’s an instant fix. Just how you go to the gym to build a stronger body, that’s exactly how you build your mental strength. It’s an ongoing process with gradual results.
There are exercises and practices that precisely help you reduce your self-doubt, boost confidence, manage stressful feelings, and build a robust positive mindset. But, again, that will take a while.
Joe Troyer, ReviewGrower
Let Employees Know About Obligation-Free Mental Health Apps
With technological innovations toward mental health, I’ve watched my team become more open to accepting the support offered to them. Where some people may be hesitant to head to traditional therapy sessions, they might be willing to try a meditation app or a virtual appointment. Once they open the door with less formal mental health support tools, they start to see results and feel better, becoming more open-minded to try other types of support. Since this support is available without the need for a face-to-face conversation with a manager, much of the pressure or anxiety around getting help is removed. We’ve come a long way and the technology will continue to get better, creating new ways to deliver mental health care to our teams.
Anthony Martin, Choice Mutual
Offer a Mental Health Awareness Toolkit
I’ve learned to proactively offer a mental health awareness toolkit to my employees whenever I see signs of work fatigue. Mental health problems have existed in the workplace even before the global pandemic. However, employers seem to disregard employees’ emotional needs due to a lack of awareness or simply because they don’t care. We want to break this cycle of emotional neglect and ensure our employees get the help they need.
By giving a comprehensive list of resources that offer emotional assistance, we hope to lessen stress and anxiety at work. The toolkit includes essential names of institutions with available psychiatrists, a toll-free number of the Mental Health Department, and many more. That said, the ultimate lesson we gain from this experience is to always be supportive of our employees and tell them that there’s nothing wrong with asking for help, especially when they are mentally exhausted.
Lilia Tovbin, BigMailer.io
Foster an Environment for Healthy Conversations
Work anxiety and stress can lead to burnout and impact the employee outside of the workplace, so it’s critical for companies to invest monthly in open communication and resources for mental health and employee well-being. Businesses can best start a conversation by holding mental health seminars, spread awareness through internal platforms, and offer additional support in their employee benefits package. Something as simple as a mental health day can be extremely beneficial for employees, and companies should encourage staff to take them. When employees feel mentally supported in the workplace, it leads to increased job satisfaction and higher work productivity.
Jodi Neuhauser, Ovaterra
Include Psychotherapy in Wellness Initiatives
Adding psychotherapy sessions to our employee wellness program has significantly reduced mental health issues in our company. Before the pandemic, we mainly focused our wellness initiatives on physical aspects like installing gym equipment and allocating walk paths in the workplace. Later on, however, we learned that taking good care of one’s well-being was more than just the physical part.
During the pandemic, we realized that our employees were also fighting emotional battles that physical workouts couldn’t mitigate. That’s why we firmly decided to provide them with a free monthly session with a psychotherapy expert. So far, it has been a successful initiative, and we don’t have any plan to stop this benefit as long as it keeps our people in good mental shape.
Adam Garcia, The Stock Dork
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