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5 ways HR can improve workplace mental health
Employee Centricity

5 ways HR can improve workplace mental health

Pearl Remedios
April 9, 2024
8
mins

Introduction

In many competitive workplaces, there's often this unspoken rule: "Keep your game face on, no matter what." People worry that if they admit to struggling with their mental well-being, they'll be seen as weak or incapable. It's like showing vulnerability is off-limits in these environments. 

This fear of being judged or facing negative consequences from colleagues or bosses can make employees keep their feelings bottled up inside. Over 45% of employees surveyed by ADP reported that their work is being negatively affected by poor mental health, with 65% stating that stress is impacting their job performance. They're afraid that if they open up about their mental health challenges, it could hurt their reputation or even their career prospects. So instead of reaching out for help, they try to tough it out on their own hoping nobody notices they're struggling. But what they might not realize is that by doing so, they're only making things harder for themselves in the long run.

Recent statistics underscore alarming trends in mental health, as 1 in 4 adults grapple with mental health issues annually resulting in significant absenteeism. 

Absenteeism isn't just about taking a day off here and there; it's often a signal of deeper issues related to mental health in the workplace. When employees start missing more work than usual, it can point to stress, anxiety or other mental health challenges that aren't being addressed. This is where the role of HR becomes crucial. HR isn't just about policies and paperwork; it's also about looking out for the wellbeing of every employee. 

5 ways to foster workplace mental health

So, half of your employees are complaining about burnout and lack of motivation at work. The question is - As an HR what can you do about it? Here are five effective ways for HR to address mental health in the workplace focusing on strategies that are universally relevant across the globe. 

1.  Break the silence around mental health:

Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health. Host workshops, seminars or lunch-and-learns to educate employees about common mental health issues and provide resources for support. By normalizing discussions around mental health you can help reduce the fear of judgment and encourage employees to seek help when needed. 

2. Provide access  to mental health support resources:

Ensure that employees have access to affordable and accessible mental health support services. This could include offering employee assistance programs (EAPs) providing information about local mental health hotlines or community resources or partnering with mental health professionals who offer reduced-cost counseling services. By making support resources readily available, you can help employees overcome barriers to seeking help.

3. Make work-life balance the new normal:

Encouraging a healthy work-life balance isn't just about preventing burnout; it's about promoting a sustainable way of working that respects personal time and space. Recognize that employees in second and third world countries may face unique challenges related to work-life balance, such as long commutes, limited access to childcare or unreliable infrastructure. As an HR, you can develop and implement policies specifically designed to support mental health. Consider implementing flexible work arrangements such as remote work options, flexible hours or compressed workweeks to accommodate employees' needs and reduce stressors that can impact mental health.

4. Train managers to recognize and support mental health:

Provide training for managers on how to recognize signs of mental health issues in their team members and how to offer appropriate support. Encourage managers to create a supportive and inclusive work environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health concerns without fear of judgment or reprisal. By equipping managers with the skills to address mental health proactively, you can create a culture of support within the organization.

5. Lead by example / Be the change you want to see:

It starts at the top. Showing that you value your own mental health sets a powerful example for everyone. Encourage self-care practices among employees and demonstrate a healthy work-life balance, you can help reduce stigma and create a culture where mental health is valued and supported.

Conclusion

As we wrap up, it's clear that promoting mental health in the workplace is much more than a policy or a program—it's about creating a culture of understanding, support, and inclusion.  By taking these steps, as an HR, you can lead the way in making mental health a priority, but it's a journey that involves everyone. From managers being allies to leaders showing vulnerability, each action adds up to a bigger change.

Reflect on the workplace environment you aspire to create for your employees. One where your employees can be their authentic selves, where their well-being is valued, and where support is always within reach. 

So, let's keep the conversation going and work together to make mental health a priority in our workplaces.

People Also Ask

How do you work with people with mental health issues?

To support employees with mental health issues, create an inclusive environment with resources like counseling services and flexible work arrangements. Prioritize their well-being and communicate openly to foster a supportive workplace culture.

What are common signs of poor mental health in employees?

Common signs of poor mental health in employees include changes in behavior, mood, and performance, such as increased absenteeism, decreased productivity, mood swings and physical symptoms like fatigue or changes in appetite. Recognizing these signs is crucial for HR professionals to support employees effectively and ensure their well-being and performance are prioritized.

How can managers support employees with mental health issues?

Managers can support employees with mental health issues by creating a safe and open environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their concerns. This involves actively listening to employees, showing empathy and offering flexibility in work arrangements when needed. Managers can also provide access to resources such as counseling services or employee assistance programs (EAPs) and encourage employees to take breaks and prioritize self-care. Additionally, offering ongoing support and checking in regularly can help employees feel valued and supported during challenging times. By prioritizing the well-being of their team members, managers can contribute to a positive and supportive workplace culture where employees can thrive both personally and professionally.

Can workplace mental health initiatives improve employee retention?

Workplace mental health initiatives can definitely help keep employees around. When employees feel supported and valued, they're more likely to stick with the company. These initiatives create a culture where people feel okay talking about their mental health and getting help if they need it. Plus, when employees have access to things like counseling and flexible work options, they can manage their mental health better and handle challenges more effectively. So, by investing in mental health, companies not only take care of their employees but also keep them happy and motivated to stay.

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