Discussions around Occupational Health and Safety often focus on avoiding illness, injuries, and accidents. Typically, everything has to do with an employee’s physical body. Fortunately, times have changed. The global pandemic intensified the discussion around mental health among families and friends, and peers from work.
Organizations today are aware that their employees’ physical health is as important as their mental health. Furthermore, they recognize that workplaces can become toxic, adversely impacting the mental health of their employees. Thus, they must proactively do something about it. But before we dive into exploring what employers can do for employee mental health, let’s first see how grave the situation is.
Surprising Statistics on Mental Health in the Workplace
Although many companies have openly addressed mental health and initiated changes in their workplace, there is a long way to go. And these statistics below demonstrate the same:
- 2021 Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace reports state that daily stress reported by the workers in the US has increased by 8% points from the previous year.
- Feelings of stress among the world’s worker has surpassed their levels, reaching an all-time high in 2022.
- The difference between women and men who report burnout has approximately become twice in the last year.
- In 2021, employees report work-life balance as their third-highest concern.
As reported above, stress, burnout, and poor work-life balance account for a majority of the mental health issues in employees. Not to forget the lasting impact of covid that contributes to the development of depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. Furthermore, other factors in the workplace like excessive workload, poor pay, lack of support, and stigma play a critical role in employee mental health.
Employer’s Role in Employee Mental Health
Poor mental health negatively impacts an individual’s outlook on life. As for employees, it can result in persistent absenteeism, turnover, and staff turnover. As resorts, the following is the approximate cost of ill mental health that UK employers pay each year:
- Presenteeism: £28 billion
- Staff turnover: £22 billion
- Absenteeism: £6 billion
That’s a whopping total of approximately £56 billion! Although the statistic may represent UK employers, the cost of ill mental health that your company pays can be high.
So how do you look after your employee’s mental health? The following are a few practices you can adopt:
- Fostering a culture supporting mental health – Supporting employee mental health requires a supportive corporate culture. Stress breeds a culture that values productivity and profits over the workforce’s welfare, which causes mental health problems. Instead, employers may motivate staff to produce quality work and care for themselves.
For instance, holding group sessions to discuss the ongoing issues in the workplace, identifying the root cause, and finding a solution together can assure your employees that everyone deeply cares about each other.
- Discuss mental health openly – Leadership behaviour influences workers’ conduct, consciously and unconsciously. When corporate leadership openly discusses mental health and obtaining mental health care, they are normalising it for their team. However, if you find that some individuals are shy or not willing to speak openly, you can consider using surveys to identify the existing problems.
- Give access to counsellors and therapists – Any employee who requires or seeks professional assistance must have access to it. Mental health must be appropriately covered and available while examining benefit packages. You can hire a company counsellor or a therapist to assist your employees in steering through everyday work issues. They can teach them to consciously control what affects them and how to cope with it healthily.
- Spread awareness about mental health – Maintaining good mental health starts with awareness. It begins with understanding what mental health is, what it entails, what things can affect it, how are some ways to maintain it, and more. Employers can call in counsellors from different backgrounds or invest in an online course. Furthermore, the employees can make mental health training mandatory for leadership positions and train them to identify distress.
Mental health is an essential aspect of everyone’s lives that extends to the workplace. Besides, before being an employee or an employer, we are all humans, each unique and yet so similar. Employers must not only take care of their employee’s mental well-being while they are at work but also their own. And the above-stated methods can help them achieve this because helping others requires one to help themselves first.