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Written by Chatty Garrate

From dealing with the effects of the global pandemic to managing personal issues, many employees are experiencing a decline in mental health due to anxiety, stress, and burnout. Study shows that 1 in 5 adults in the US experiences mental illness, but less than half receive treatment. Also, according to Mental Health in the Workplace Summit, mental health-related issues are the primary reason for absenteeism more than other illnesses.                    

Given these data, companies are now seeing mental health benefits not as an incentive but as a necessity. That’s why it is also essential for an organization to create an office culture that supports and promotes mental health. If you’re just starting to incorporate mental health support in your organization, we’re here to help. Here are five ways HR can support employees’ mental health. 

Create a Healthy Work Environment 

There is still a lot of stigma concerning mental health. Many employees fear speaking up about what they’re going through because they might appear unfit for their job responsibilities. So, the leader’s job is to create and maintain the support structure needed for a healthy work environment. Your employees must feel safe and that they belong personally and professionally to make it easier for them to be engaged and productive in their roles.  

Provide resources that will encourage employees to talk about mental health openly. You can start by creating social support groups that meet regularly, open a portal where employees can reach out to HRs concerning their stress and if ever they need help, or provide an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if your company has one. Through this, you’re creating an environment where your employees will not only feel that their well-being matters, but it comes first. 

Offer a Flexible Scheduling

Lack of work-life balance can lead to mental exhaustion for many employees. Making room for flexibility can help lessen stress and increase job satisfaction and productivity. Work flexibility could mean allowing employees to telecommute a few days a week, unlimited paid time off (PTO) policies, flexible start and end times, or longer breaks. 

Leaders could also encourage their employees to take time off. Mental health is just as important as physical health. So, taking a vacation leave is good for your overall health. 

Also, it may avoid the risk of possible burnout for the employees. If an organization is open to building relationships with its employees, it could create a workplace ready to bring its energy to work. 

Provide Mental Health Services

How a company allocates and invests resources says a lot about its priorities. Many companies are not keen on investing in mental health services because they don’t see the ROI, but their employees’ personal and professional problems interfere with their quality of work. More so, when a company ignores the topic of mental issues, it creates a work environment of distrust and fear. 

Consider offering free access to mental health professionals/therapists through video calls or face-to-face, onsite mental health counselors, fun activities like team buildings or interactive webinars, and even discounts on massages or gym memberships. In return, the company will:

  • Increase the trust between managers and employees
  • Decrease absenteeism 
  • Boost productivity
  • Increase customer/client satisfaction
  • Attract quality candidates
  • Create a healthy and trusting company culture

Raise Awareness Among Leaders

HR should make it a priority to educate leaders on the importance of mental health in the workplace. After all, the better they are aware, the better it is for the benefit of employees and the organization. 

Leaders are multipliers for your culture. That’s why it is necessary to activate them because they set the tone for what should be acceptable and what’s not. It also means avoiding the risk of losing your employees in the middle. 

Remember that if leaders do not cultivate a supportive culture in the workplace, employees will fear opening up. 

Be the Role Model You Needed

Cliché as it may sound, actions do speak louder than words. Model the behavior you want to see in your employees. As leaders, you must set an example for your employees, especially concerning mental health. Start by keeping your camera off during meetings, taking time off for vacation, or not responding to work-related calls and texts after your shift. 

This way, you’re encouraging them to look after their mental health while, at the same time, you’re showing them that you’re willing to listen and engage with them.

Final Thoughts

Mental health issues are inevitable, whether inside or outside the workplace. But if HR leaders lead with compassion, empathy, and transparency, you will not only help your employees’ current disposition but also leave a lasting positive impact on your company.

While it’s okay to go through difficult times, it’s also okay (and encouraged) to talk about your fears and concerns. Remember that you can’t totally eliminate burnout and stress in the workplace, but you can lessen it by following the list above. I hope this helps! 

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