Employers have a responsibility to their employees. Employees are their biggest assets, and as such, it’s in the company’s best interest and the shareholders’ interest to have a healthy and happy workforce. But a healthy workforce goes beyond physical health. It also includes mental health.
There’s no doubt that mental health has a significant impact on your employees’ ability to work, on overall productivity, and on morale. Psychological disorders in the workplace can lead to increased absenteeism, high employee benefits costs, a larger number of long-term disability cases, unexpected loss of skilled staff, team conflict, grievances, injuries and accidents, and many other negative consequences.
It’s clear that employers should make mental health a priority in the workplace, for the sake of their employees and their profits.
If you want to improve employee mental wellness, use these actionable tips.
Employee assistance programs (EAPs) are company-sponsored programs offered to employees to help them deal with any personal and work issues that might negatively affect their work performance, health, and wellbeing. These programs include resources, tools, and counselling services to help them better manage their professional and personal challenges. EAPs can help employees lead healthier lives, reduce employer healthcare costs, decrease workers’ comp claims, and decrease absenteeism by giving employees direct and confidential access to help, 24/7, whenever they need it most.
One of the most effective treatment options for mental health conditions such as anxiety, stress, and depression is physical activity. By implementing exercise programs in your workplace, such as free yoga classes, an on-site fitness centre, group walks or fun runs, you can successfully improve not only your employees’ physical health, but their mental health as well.
Leveraging community resources on mental health can help you improve employee mental wellness at little to no cost. Partnering with community leaders in mental health, including healthcare professionals, community-based organizations, advocates, and local experts can ensure that your employees have access to the comprehensive information and resources they might need and know where they can seek help.
In addition, inviting mental health professionals into your office can help break the stigma about discussing mental wellness in the workplace and give employees a safe and supportive place to speak up about their mental health struggles and challenges.
Taking a company-wide approach to supporting employee mental wellness requires effective communication. Create communication campaigns that increase education and awareness about mental health issues. Display wellness posters and hand brochures to employees and management stating your company’s mental wellness programs, policies, and practices.
Develop a wellness column in your company newsletter. Promote discussion and understanding of the importance of mental wellness.
Employees and managers should be trained to recognize the signs of stress and mental health symptoms in themselves and those around them, and learn how to properly respond when workers may be experiencing mental health problems. They should also take part in a mental health first-aid training program.
Return to Work
Employees returning to work after time off to deal with mental illness should be assisted in re-entry into the workplace in a safe, appropriate, and timely manner. There should be honest and respectful communication among the employer, the employee, the union, and the insurance carrier. There should be no stigma or discrimination associated with the leave or the return to work.
Many employers are now taking a well-rounded and comprehensive approach to employee mental wellness through positive psychology. Rather than only focusing on employees with mental health issues or those are risk of developing mental health challenges, they consider the overall improvement of their workers’ wellbeing by ensuring all employees feel appreciated, supported, and fulfilled in the workplace.