Even more so since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, people are experiencing mental health issues, which not only impact their personal well-being, but also their work performance, attitude and behavior. As the threat of illness and the isolation resulting from Covid-induced lockdown set in and then persisted far longer than expected, who wouldn’t experience heightened worry or anxiety? Especially for those already vulnerable to these issues, things may have become truly traumatic.
- As reported by Harvard Business Review, 42 percent of employees have experienced a decline in mental health since the pandemic began.
How to Help Struggling Employees
As an employer, it’s up to you to acknowledge and understand your employees’ struggles with mental health challenges, whether they were brought on by the pandemic or other factors. At work, you may see those issues manifested in the form of increased anxiety, depression, burnout or even PTSD, as well as decreased enthusiasm, motivation or focus.
- Treat each employee individually. Like any health issue, there’s no single panacea for mental disorders. Give your team members support and access to the resources they need to get better. At the same time, do whatever it takes to remove any stigma associated with the challenges they face.
- Be honest and vulnerable. Open up to employees about your own mental health struggles. This opens the door for them to feel comfortable talking about their own. And, the universality of the experience will translate into a decrease in stigma.
Harvard researchers offer addition ways to support your employees, including:
- Model healthy behaviors. Walk the talk by showing how you prioritize self-care. For instance, when you recommend that people turn off their email on their days off, do the same thing yourself. Let them see you taking a walk during your lunch break instead of catching up on paperwork with a sandwich in one hand at your desk. As you should in all circumstances, lead by example.
- Offer more flexibility. Not everyone will need the same thing, so take a customized approach. One employee may need more work-at-home time, while another may be craving the socialization of the office environment. Be as flexible, realistic and generous as possible. Consider this when offering benefits.
- Check in with people regularly. Err on the side of overcommunicating. Put added emphasis on keeping employees informed of any business changes or updates. And, be sure to find out how they’re doing. Go beyond a simple, “How are you?” and ask specific questions about what kind of support would be helpful. Actively listen and act upon their responses.
- Make everyone aware of what resources are available – and encourage them to use them. Here again, share your own experiences and model healthy behavior. Mention your work with a therapist, in addition to filling them in on details about your EAP. Remember, shame and stigma may hold people back, so normalize the use of these services.
- Invest in training. Prioritize proactive and preventive mental health training.
How to Make it all Possible
Working with a professional employer organization (PEO) or other partner company can help you offer better, more affordable mental health and other benefits to your employees. To learn more about the solutions available to you, contact Key HR today.
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- On November 24, 2021
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