How does your business advocate for employee mental health?
Isla Sibanda is an entrepreneur and a Cybersecurity Specialist with a background in ethical hacking at Privacyaustralia.
Facilitate Conversations About Mental Wellness Frequently
The initiative that we have taken to discuss mental health concerns for our employees forms a supportive space that encourages discussion. This support group facilitates understanding and promotes the feeling of cooperation amongst the employees. Over the years of my professional life, I have come across various mental health issues that persist in this environment. This includes financial issues, discrimination, an unhealthy lifestyle, poor physical health, a toxic or stressful work culture, transitional life changes, post-partum depression for women, seasonal affective disorder, burnout, or general anxiety.
We acknowledge as an organization how important it is to empathize with each specific situation of an individual. Employees will rarely ever reach out for help themselves due to the stigma surrounding mental health. This is why we have taken it upon ourselves as leaders of the company to facilitate conversation and make this an ongoing event. This is the bare minimum that we can do as a company so that our actions have a valuable impact in terms of improving our teams’ mental health.
As a company, we have mandatory practices for acknowledging each other’s mental health in the system. We have trained managers on what to do if any signs of emotional distress are witnessed. Our managers are highly aware of what these telltale signs look like and how to deal with them.
Top Strategies For Employee Mental Health
Working in the recruiting industry, I’m intimately aware of the negative impact poor employee health can have on retention, engagement, productivity, and every other business metric across the board. Here are my top strategies for accounting and advocating for employee mental health:
1. Collect feedback from employees often, and use that information to refine workplace policy.
Tracking metrics like engagement, belonging, workplace stress, and work satisfaction over time is the best way to identify shifts in employee mental health before they lead to more pervasive problems. We use regular employee surveys, along with an open-ended employee feedback system that can be used by team members whenever they have an idea or issue.
2. Maintain a truly full staff.
This doesn’t mean having exactly enough people to just barely keep up with your company’s workload when all hands are on deck. Your workforce needs to be large enough that top talent doesn’t feel guilty taking a sick day or vacation when they need it and that you won’t be running your team ragged if someone unexpectedly quits or uses an extended stretch of PTO. If you frequently need to have your team work overtime to meet deadlines, this is a sign it’s time to grow your staff to avoid running your current team into burnout.
3. Ensure managers have regular one-on-ones with their reports.
Manager one-on-ones are a very valuable tool for managing a workforce. They’re the ideal chance for the manager to give critical feedback and to receive input from the team on their management style or the overall work environment. They also provide a chance for managers to check in with team members and monitor their workplace mental health or offer assistance and solutions to employees who are struggling with anxiety, burnout, or other issues.
Accessible Mental Health Resources
Providing access to mental health resources in an easy-to-locate manner is critical for maintaining the mental health of an organization. With the looming threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health is more important than ever, but not everyone has the time or resources available to manage it. Consider even allocating a mental health stipend per month to your employees for access to both in-person and telehealth services you’ve provided. It’s in your best interest to keep your workforce happy, healthy, and ready for work.
Normalize Mental Health Benefits and Eradicate Stigma
Normalization of regular mental health check-ups, counseling, and medications. Before the pandemic, our company had already offered medical benefits to our employees, but its coverage is limited to diagnostic imaging and hospitalizations. When COVID-19 started, mental health issues also surfaced, and we realized that aside from physical health, mental health is also of equal importance. Thus, we expanded our health benefits package, which now includes free visits to mental health professionals and discounts on their respective medications. We aim to eradicate the negative notions tied to mental health checkups among our employees.
Create A Psychologically Safe Workplace and Lead By Example
One of the earliest steps we took was to create a psychologically safe workplace where team members could discuss their challenges without fear of receiving backlash. As the CEO, starting the conversation around the mental health challenges I was experiencing, especially at the peak of the pandemic, helped team members feel safe to open up about their own challenges and normalize talking about what one is going through. It is through open discussion that we can find solutions at an individual and community level.
Team members also have access to mental health days that they can use to recharge via any preferred method or activity. As their leader, I set the pace by also taking mental health days off to destigmatize this practice and make it a normal part of our workplace culture.
Open To Flexible Accommodations
Being open to more reasonable accommodations is how I advocate for mental health. When an employer is accommodating and flexible, it suggests they are trying their hardest to make things work for everyone. Many organizations now allow employees to work from home during specific hours. If it is authorized, it can have a significant positive impact on employee morale.
Struggling with traffic to get to work can be a pain, so if an employee can do pretty much everything they do in the office from home, why not give them a day or two a month to work remotely? This benefits both the environment and the firm by reducing the amount of money spent on keeping that individual in the office all of the time. It’s a great idea; you’re also cutting your overhead costs.
Mental Health Seminars To Spread Awareness
The employees of any business are its greatest assets, and it is the responsibility of the employer and the organization to take care of its employees. Employers should ensure that their employees’ mental health is proper and should try and help them out if they are facing any problems. Conducting mental health seminars and workshops which spread awareness about mental health issues is important if you hope to create an environment that prioritizes mental health.
Employers should also take good notice of how each employee is operating and should talk to them if they are showing signs of burnout. Giving mental health leave days can also be helpful and can help an employee regain their composure and their will to work. Limiting the workload of employees can also be effective and helpful as this can help them not feel overwhelmed.
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