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Supporting employee mental health

4 Easy Ways to Support Employee Mental Health at Work

Mental well-being is no longer an aspect employers can afford to overlook. In today's world, with constant connectivity and high-pressure work, promoting employee mental health is crucial due to uncertainty. It's essential for fostering a productive and resilient workforce that can navigate these challenges effectively. 

And to be clear – taking steps to promote mental health isn’t just about doing the right thing by employees. There’s a strong business case to be made here.

The World Health Organization, for example, says that for every dollar invested in the expansion of treatment for common mental disorders, there's a return of $4 in improved health and productivity. This amounts to a remarkable 300% ROI on such mental health initiatives. This financial perspective emphasizes the benefits that come from promoting mental health support within a company. 

Understanding Employee Mental Health

Mental health in the workplace involves the emotional, physical and social well-being of employees within their work environment. It revolves around how people view their roles, manage their stress, and engage with others in a professional setting.

Employees face various stressors at work, including excessive workloads, long hours, strict deadlines, or lack of support. These challenges get even tougher when trying to strike a balance between work and personal life. Managing these stressors can greatly affect employees mental health, impacting productivity and their overall well-being in the workplace.

Moreover, poor mental health has a significant impact on productivity. Employees dealing with mental health challenges often show signs of reduced concentration, lower motivation, and diminished job performance. These effects not only impact the employee but also spread through the team and possibly the overall success of the company. Recognizing and proactively addressing these impacts is crucial for fostering a workplace culture that prioritizes employee well-being.

Here are actionable strategies employers can employ to champion mental well-being:

1: Talk About It

Talking openly about mental health is crucial for creating a supportive workplace. Many employees hesitate to discuss mental health because of the stigma attached to it, creating a significant hurdle. Employers can proactively reduce stigma by actively encouraging open dialogue about mental health. 

A study by Qualtrics and SAP showed a clear impact that managers can have on employee's mental health. Employees whose managers were less effective discussing mental health issues were 23% more likely to face mental health issues since the pandemic. 

Employers can take simple steps like hosting workshops, bringing in experts for seminars, or keeping an open-door policy for discussions. When leaders emphasize the importance of mental health, it fosters an environment where employees feel accepted and understood. This inclusive culture promotes better support for mental health challenges and leads to a happier and more productive workforce. 

2: Offer Flexible Work Arrangements

Providing flexible work arrangements include things like remote work options, flexible hours, or compressed workweeks. This flexibility can alleviate stress for employees trying to balance personal and professional responsibilities. Recognizing that one-size-fits-all policies may not cater to individual needs can go a long way in reducing work-related mental strain. This flexibility may mean relaxing expectations around employee productivity while understanding that the relationship between work time and productivity isn’t as straightforward as it might appear.

Paul Gionfriddo, former president and CEO of Mental Health America, told McKinsey & Co., “What gives me hope is that employers, in particular, are recognizing that productivity can go up [with increased work flexibility]. You do not have to worry about people not working hard enough; in fact, part of the problem is people working too hard and not realizing that their productivity drops off after hour 40, 50, 70, or 80.”

The American Psychological Association (APA) concurs, writing that “organizations that are investing in remote-friendly (i.e., more autonomous) work are viewed as creating more psychologically safe and inclusive work environments.”

3: Provide Mental Health Resources

Consider offering an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that provides free counseling sessions. EAPs often provide counseling and similar support services to employees. Research has shown that EAPs can result in reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, and decreased medical costs. One (admittedly older) study found that EAPs deliver a $6.47 return on investment for every dollar spent.

Additionally, ensure that your health benefits package includes coverage for mental health services. This complete coverage helps employees get the help when they need it. Employers can also gather a list of trusted mental health resources so your team's have easy access. Share these resources with the workforce, making it easier for those in need to seek help.

4: Offer Training for Managers

“Midlevel managers are often the gatekeepers of employee well-being—they determine whether employees can actually utilize the benefits and resources your organization offers,” says the APA. “Without their buy-in, these opportunities are moot for many staff.”

Equip managers with the skills to recognize signs of mental health struggles in their team members. Training sessions can help them approach such situations with empathy, offer support, and direct employees to the right resources. Indeed, one study found that manager mental health training led to a reduction in absenteeism, with an incredible ROI of nearly $12 USD for every dollar spent on such training. This training not only supports employees but also fosters a more supportive and resilient workplace culture.

Key Takeaways 

Promoting employee mental health is crucial for creating a resilient and thriving workforce. Understanding the impact of mental health isn't solely an obligation; it's an investment with significant returns. The World Health Organization emphasizes the 300% ROI in mental health initiatives.

Understanding the impact of workplace stressors on mental health is important. Work-related stress can negatively impact mental health. This can lead to decreased productivity and job performance. The main causes of this stress include heavy workloads, tight deadlines, and an imbalance between work and personal life.

In this blog, we covered actionable strategies to promote employee mental health. Encouraging open conversations about mental illness, offering flexible work arrangements, providing mental health resources, and offering training for managers are key initiatives. These strategies help create a welcoming and helpful work environment, so employees can get the help and resources they need.

Investing in workplace mental health support shows commitment to employee well-being and creates a stronger, more productive, and caring work environment.

CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about our ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.