May is Mental Health Awareness Month – but the importance is year-round. And the workplace is no exception. In addition to the devastating impact it can have on people’s lives and well-being, mental health can critically alter your business culture, bottom line, and, in extreme cases, safety.
- Depression is a leading example. The American Psychiatric Association reports that employees who suffer from it experience a 35 percent reduction in productivity, contributing to an annual loss to the U.S. economy of $210.5 billion.
- An estimated 300 million people live with depression, with many also exhibiting symptoms of anxiety. Depression can manifest as a loss of interest in activities, a decrease or increase in appetite or sleep, difficulty concentrating, feelings of worthlessness, or thoughts of suicide. And when employees are depressed, they miss an average of 31.4 days of work a year and lose 27.9 more to being unproductive.
The Good News
There is a silver lining to the harsh realities of mental illness and its impact: awareness levels are up and the historic stigma attached to it is gradually and steadily falling away. With proper care and treatment, 80 percent of employees who suffer from mental illnesses, and depression in particular, have reported improved levels of work effectiveness and satisfaction – according to the same report.
What You Can Do
The importance of your employees’ mental health cannot be ignored in your pursuit of business success. Keep these steps in mind as you build a healthy workforce and as such, a healthy company:
- Regularly assess workloads. Watch for red flags that employees may be overworked, overwhelmed or burned out. If you notice a normally affable team member acting uncharacteristically sullen or confrontational or you notice a disturbing change in performance, such as making errors or staying late to catch up, take steps to identify the issue and begin to address it.
- Make sure people take breaks – and time off. See above. Make sure employees take their breaks throughout the day. It will make them more efficient, energetic, and better able to tackle the challenges in front of them. People need to recharge.
- Promote healthy lifestyles. You can’t prevent issues around mental health and stress at work, but you can provide helpful education and raise awareness. Encourage your employees to eat well, exercise regularly and, if necessary, talk to a mental health professional or utilize your employee assistance program (EAP). Make healthy living an ongoing message in your internal communication efforts.
There’s Help for You, Too
If you’re a small to mid-sized business leader, handling employee wellness and job satisfaction can add to your own stress – creating a potentially toxic downward spiral. You simply may not have the HR bandwidth you need to juggle it all. Before you reach this point – or if you already feel it descending upon you – consider a partnership with a professional employer organization (PEO). Outsourcing some or all of your talent management responsibilities can take a huge load off your plate, while leaving you in control of your company and freeing up your time to plan, strategize, and grow your business for the future. To learn more about the right outsourcing option for you, contact Key HR today.
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- On May 4, 2022
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