Discrimination and Harassment
May 10, 2022
Concern for employees’ mental health has moved to the forefront as workers face new stresses and challenges, inside and outside of the workplace. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that while people are being more open about their mental health with others since the pandemic, mental health challenges continue to rise. Recognizing the importance of mental well-being is one of the ways that organizations can destigmatize mental health and more effectively address the needs of all employees.
Employers can benefit, too. Research from the National Safety Council and the University of Chicago shows that employers who support mental health see a return of $4 for every dollar invested in mental health treatment in increased productivity, employee engagement and performance and lower absenteeism and disability claims.
6 actions that organizations can take to raise awareness and create a mental-health friendly workplace include:
- Providing Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and flexible benefits that address employees’ mental, physical, emotional and financial well-being. For example, having 24/7 access to caregiver services and confidential counseling and support can make it easier for employees to get the help they need, when they need it.
- Starting a mental well-being group. Employee resource groups (ERGs) are one of the best ways to empower coworkers to offer support to each other and participate in activities that foster inclusion and a sense of belonging. Encouraging collaboration among ERGs further raises awareness, empathy and understanding among different groups.
- Offering ongoing content and sessions (onsite and online) on a wide range of topics, such as stress and anxiety, physical and mental challenges and yoga, meditation and mindfulness. With more employees working in a remote or hybrid environment, on-demand sessions provide the flexibility they need in their daily lives.
- Communicating regularly — and through different channels — helps ensure that employees know about and can access the various benefits, services and activities the organization provides. Having senior leadership actively promote the program sends a strong message that the organization is serious about supporting employees.
- Cultivating a psychologically safe work environment, where employees feel comfortable speaking up about challenges they are facing, and sharing ideas to improve the workplace for everyone.
- Training and educating managers on how to effectively listen to employees and recognize signs of burnout, anxiety, depression and changes in mood and performance. Ongoing training should also address issues around diversity, equity and inclusion, microaggressions and unconscious bias and teach managers how to demonstrate inclusive behaviors and actions that help improve their team’s overall mental and physical well-being.
Prioritizing employees’ mental, emotional and physical well-being is an important part of creating and maintaining a healthier work culture. Offering a variety of flexible benefits and programs that support employees’ overall well-being can reduce absenteeism, lower medical and disability expenses, increase productivity, employee engagement and retention, and foster a greater sense of belonging — all factors for success.