Most people juggle more than their fair share of personal and professional responsibilities. With the increasing complexity of modern life, employee mental health is at the fore. It’s becoming more and more difficult to manage all the tasks required to navigate the world. Work, in particular, is becoming more demanding and time-consuming for many people, as the boundaries between our workday and personal lives are becoming less defined.
Because of this, many Americans experience stress, anxiety, and restlessness on a regular basis. For example, a Statistia study reveals that 30% of respondents reported experiencing overwhelming anxiety in the past two weeks. Ongoing stress not only leads to professional burnout but can have serious health implications as well.
As a business leader, you should do what you can to help support your employees’ emotional health so that they can remain productive and help your organization achieve its goals. Here’s what you need to know about supporting mental health in your organization in 2020 and beyond.
Healthy Employees Make for a Healthy Business
If you’re like most employers, then you probably care at least a little about your employees’ well-being for their own sake. But even if you’re more focused on the bottom line, it’s important to realize that wellness and productivity go hand in hand.
Employees suffering from depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues are not going to be performing at their peak. 80% of surveyed adults report having trouble fulfilling their work responsibilities because of mental health issues. That loss in productivity can have a major impact on organizational performance.
Even though it might require some initial investments to support your employees’ mental health, those investments pay off in a big way over time. A healthy, happy workforce makes for a healthy business and reduces absenteeism and turnover.
Good Mental Health Starts With Awareness
Mental illness has carried a stigma for much of human history. The result of this is that many employees either downplay what they’re experiencing or try to hide it. As an employer, one of the first steps you should take in supporting your employees is to bring awareness to the issue.
While it’s never okay to draw attention to an individual employee’s mental health, it is important to make your organization aware of the problem and the resources you offer. Anonymous self-assessment for employees, offering literature that explains symptoms of common mental health disorders, and hosting stress management or mental health seminars are all good ways to bring more awareness to your organization.
Embracing Mental Health in the Workplace
Employees want to know that their employers take mental health seriously. In fact, 72% of workers want to see their organization prioritize employee well-being and mental health. This high percentage is remarkably consistent, even across several generations. Fortunately, employers can appropriately embrace mental health in the workplace in several ways.
First, think about training. You should definitely offer resources to help all workers talk about mental health appropriately, but it’s particularly important to provide specialized mental health training for managers. Because managers oversee the day-to-day operations, employees need to feel comfortable turning to them if they need support.
Next, consider your organizational policies. This is a great way to promote inclusivity and to provide a framework for reducing stigma. By creating official policies surrounding mental health issues, including bullying and harassment, you can support your employees and create more clarity when issues come up.
You can also create policies that help employees cope without worrying that they’ll be disciplined. For example, by making new policies that support flexibility and encourage a healthy work-life balance, you’ll send the message that your organization prioritizes mental health. These kinds of policies also help employees feel more secure and allow them to focus on their health and well-being without worrying about the impact of their illness on their employment
Finally, you should ensure that your employees have adequate mental health coverage in the medical plans you offer. Whether you sponsor the deductible or provide other help in allowing employees to access a mental health professional, this support is key.
Building a Supportive Company Culture
Human resources professionals can do their part to promote mental health in the workplace by cultivating a culture that supports the well-being of workers. Changing an organization’s culture for the better is a long-term project that has an enormous impact on both employee satisfaction and organizational performance.
Business leaders set the tone for their organizations. Modelling healthy work-life balance, making it clear that wellness is a priority, and creating zero-tolerance policies for mental illness discrimination send powerful messages to everyone within the company. Weaving mental health support into your organization’s culture takes effort, but the rewards are immense and add significant value for employees and the bottom line.
Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He is currently writing a book about scaling up business and his experience implementing lean methodology.