96% of CEOs believe they are doing enough for employee mental health, but only 69% of employees feel the same- There were the results of a survey conducted by data scientists at a top mental health technology company.
Study after study has proved that mental health is directly proportional to work behavior, productivity and engagement.
What does this mean for employers and HR professionals?
Discussions on the importance of employee health and wellbeing have got saturated, yet the problem prevails.
Talking endlessly on the matter or stressing on its urgency isn’t going to do anything. Concrete steps are required- both from the Employer and the Employees’ end.
Imagine a workplace where employees come to work inspired, feel safe, share a common purpose with peers and leaders, do their best work, and go home fulfilled- without any work stress and a perfect work-life balance.
Keep reading to learn how to achieve this.
No fear zone- Create an open communication culture
Foster a company culture where employees feel free to voice their opinions, problems and ideas without the fear of its repercussions.
Creating an environment where such conversations are encouraged reduces isolating behaviors- helping others understand mental health warning signs as and when they appear.
- Conduct regular employee health surveys to keep their wellbeing at check and to evaluate how their stress is affecting their productivity
- All levels of the organizations should participate in normalizing the talk
- Encourage workplace friendships
- Ensure the right message gets across by making it clear that everyone struggles with mental health issues at some point in life
- Be open to listening to employees’ problems
- Give time to unplug
- Foster a company culture that is supportive of employee wellness
Lend a shoulder- Offer the support of mental health experts
Including mental health coverage as part of the employee health care plan is a great start.
Ensure you encourage workers to use these benefits and highlight their confidentiality.
People get hesitant to speak about their problems with the HR, but this reluctancy is likely to decrease with professionals.
- Offer basic health checkups at the office premises by inviting private clinic doctors and hospitals for health camps
- Provide free therapy sessions
- Offer a health savings account (HSA) to help offset out-of-pocket expenses
- Conduct mental health awareness and self-help workshops & seminars on health risks
- Provide direct access to mental health professionals through phone or in-person to avoid the shame and hesitancy associated with approach in public
- Create a mental health resource section for ease of access with a comprehensive health and safety program
Compliments go a long way- Make recognition a workplace culture element
Everyone likes to be appreciated for the work they do.
An unappreciative company makes employees feel they are uncared for, ultimately making them leave the organization.
Recognizing them for their contributions at work is one of the easiest ways to initiate employee wellbeing. And an extremely important element to be integrated in the company culture.
Do not underestimate the potential of a simple “thank you” or a pat on the back.
- Conduct Rewards and Recognition program every quarter to express gratitude to the top performers
- Monetary rewards are great, but simple, meaningful gestures also help a lot
- Use internal company newsletters or emails as a medium to recognize employees
- Appreciating an employee’s work after they have decided to leave the company isn’t going to make any difference. Act while you still have time
- Thinking “My employee isn’t going to go anywhere. He thinks the company is his family” or “If I appreciate my employee, he will get overconfident or start demanding more money or think he is too good for this company” are excuses to avoid rewarding the deserving employees. They will leave either way if you don’t appreciate them.
Good in, bad out- Advocate healthy food habits
Healthy habits are often the most difficult ones to adopt. But the most rewarding too.
Get this message rightly translated to your employees as the first step. Introduce healthy, helpful and fun activities at the office to motivate them.
- Conduct on-site physical training classes or give vouchers to redeem them at a gym
- Maintain a pantry filled with healthy food items like fruits, nuts, and fresh juices
- Encourage employees to cut down on sugars, caffeine and alcohol
- Have a no-smoking policy in the office premises
- Encourage rest and taking breaks
- Avoid long chair time by installing standing desks, cycle chairs, standup meetings
- Consider allowing pets in the workplace
- Invite dieticians and nutritionists to the office to speak on lifestyle habits and weight management
- Make it easier for employees to ride their bicycles or walk to work
- Organize healthy potluck events
AI to the rescue- Take the support of technology:
Technology has greatly made things easier for humans. Take its advantage in this situation too.
The ubiquity of fitness tracking tools and apps has grabbed several people’s attention and made them more conscious of their health.
Many of these offer monitoring services to keep goals in check and reminders to follow healthy habits.
- Offer access to apps that can help with sleep and stress reduction
- Encourage employees to use smart-wearables that monitor basic health parameters
- Provide premium accounts of top nutrition and recipe websites and applications
- Several smartphones also have a step-tracker. Encourage employees to make use of it
United we win, divided we fall- Pave way for collaborative team events
It is rightly said that it helps when you have someone by your side in difficult times.
Team meetings, lunches and get-togethers are vital to encourage friendships and help connect.
Employees with mental health issues often feel isolated. Including them in small gatherings (with even 2-3 people) can help them cope with their problems better and uplift moods.
- Conduct team building exercises to encourage communication
- Organize team lunches at least on a bi-weekly basis
- Arrange for physical activity classes that involve all employees
- Encourage car and bike pooling
- Create and fund an employee sports team
- Encourage employees to participate in fun runs
Everyone loves rewards– Introduce a solid incentives program
Who doesn’t like getting prizes? Rewarding employees as and when they reach small targets is a great way to help increase their morale.
You can set incentives for achieving goals or quitting bad habits.
- Reward employees with fitness bands and gadgets that further help stay healthy
- Set targets for each employee or divide them into groups and incentivize those who reach the most goals (But don’t make it competitive)
- Simple rewards like early leave, free lunch, or a ticket to a concert also work very well
Practice what you preach- Ensure leaders inculcate the right habits first
Let your executives lead by example. Employees will not take health advice from a leader who smokes, consumes alcohol regularly or has a BMI above 30.
Ensure the mentors are on the right path before they can go ahead to encourage the workers.
- Remove the stigma around mental health issues; tend to them often
- Make mental health training mandatory for company leaders to keep them invested and in turn increase awareness
- Train managers to respond appropriately on spotting signs of emotional distress or substance abuse
Several companies think that employees’ mental health is none of their business.
It most definitely is. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that depression and anxiety cost the global economy $1 trillion every year in lost productivity.
This should be a wake-up call for such organizations.
“It is safer to remain silent about mental health and workplace stress at my company”- 67% of employees agreed with this in a survey.
If you are waiting for your employees to get vocal about their mental health issues, that’s never going to happen.
You will eventually watch it materialize through the impact the company suffers. Burnout, pressure, anxiety, and stress are not just terms from a mental health awareness book, they represent a cascade of grave repercussions if not acted on fast.
To know more about mental health, the challenges it poses on organizations and the ways to help employees, we sat down with Ms Sonica Aron, the Founder of MarchingSheep.
Watch the video to learn more tips and tools essential to support the assets of your company.