EAP Corner

Rethinking the Importance of Mental Health in the Workplace

As we look back at the last couple of years, it has become more evident how important mental wellness is in the workplace. The trauma of Covid and disruption of our “normal” every day life has left employees evaluating their priorities, resulting in completely different mindsets. Employees have changed and as an employer, it is important to take a serious look at practices and how you can support mental wellness in the work place.

Before Covid, companies were creating fun environments to build camaraderie with games, foosball tournaments, food incentives and much more. Tech companies were branding it as Employee Experience or EX, creating a fun place to work to attract employees. (Bunch 2021). It helped with recruitment as employees responded well, knowing they could work and play together. Today employees are evaluating their lives and looking at it through different lenses. There are new stressors because of changing responsibilities at home and with family. With many employees working from home, it has now created a need to find ways to support employees differently. Employers need to shift a bit, keeping your current EX (Employee Experience) in mind, but looking at ways to support employees’ mental well-being as well.

Have you been noticing more stressed out employees and wondering why they are not reaching out to use the mental health services available? It might be a good time to assess your culture. Companies have made strides to help employees find ways to manage stress by offering mental health days off, Yoga, and Mindfulness, yet there is still the stigma around mental health. In a recent article from the online Harvard Business Review, Greenwood and Anas report that changing the culture where employees feel their company supports mental health can help not only with retention, but with employees missing less work and creating more production for the company. Greenwood and Anas report that “companies can no longer compartmentalize mental health as an individual’s responsibility to address alone through self-care, mental health days, or employee benefits.” They share that it has to be an organizational priority. (Greenwood & Anas, 2021)

Having difficult conversations with employees can help determine individual needs. It may be employees are stressed because of family responsibilities that changed because of Covid. Allowing more flexibility could help with their stress. Or the employee may be dealing with trauma and in need of a different level of care. “Employers know that stress and trauma can each have a negative impact on mental health, especially given the traumatic events of the past 20 months. However, while stress can be managed, trauma is distinct and requires a heightened level of care and support.” (Staglin 2021)

More than ever before, companies need to train managers to open lines of communication by asking the right questions. They can share their own experiences through storytelling and help employees feel it is okay to talk about their mental health needs.

Your new EX will look different as you create culture to help retain employees. Speaker Simon Sinek shared on Twitter. “Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.”

Works Cited:

Bunch, Will (2021, October). EX after COVID:Way beyond foosball and free lunches. Retrieved from https://hrexecutive.com/employee-experience-after-covid-waybeyond-foosball-and-free-lunches/

Greenwood, Kelly, Anas, Julia (2021, Oct). It’s a New era for mental health at work. https://www.forbes.com/sites/onemind/2021/09/16/workplace-mentalhealth-in-2021-how-can-leaders-buildenduring-change/?sh=4a1c9315766d

Staglin, Greg (2021, Sept). Workplace mental health In 2021: how can leaders build enduring change?https://www.forbes.com/sites/onemind/2021/09/16/workplacemental-health-in-2021-how-can-leaders-buildenduring-change/?sh=4a1c9315766

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