Your employees seem distracted or on edge. Even typically gregarious team members are unusually quiet. Understandably, it can be hard to know how to respond, but you need to react. After all, these are common signs of the disengagement that’s plaguing more than half of professionals, according to Owl Labs research. One way to reduce widespread disengagement is to more actively support your workers’ mental health.
Giving your employees the tools to better cope with life’s stressors will benefit them in myriad ways. They’ll feel more focused and innovative. They’ll have the skills to keep the various elements of their lives in balance. They’ll be more grounded in their decision-making, too. And when they’re happier and healthier, you’ll see benefits as well.
Remember: Like athletic teams, corporate teams depend on being able to tap into the collective strength of all their players. When one or more players aren’t able to function to full capacity, the whole team’s productivity and performance can suffer. By enabling everyone on your roster to get and stay healthier, you can keep efficiency and engagement levels high.
Where and how can you begin? Put these strategies into motion to get everyone in your company on the path to more on-the-job fulfillment buoyed by holistic wellness
1. Identify your mental health support gaps.
The first place to start is by knowing what mental health-related employee benefits your plan already provides. This allows you to apply “reverse engineering” to figuring out what you could add.
For instance, you may have an employee assistance program (EAP) in place. EAPs are free services available to workers and may offer anything from hotlines to limited levels of counseling. However, upon further digging, you may find that only a small portion of your employees are utilizing your EAP program.
With this knowledge, you could pursue ways to solve this mental health support gap. Perhaps employees don’t realize that the EAP is free. Maybe your onboarding procedures only skim the surface of what an EAP is and how to use it. Either way, putting other measures in place (e.g., sending informative emails, changing your onboarding curriculum) could fill in that gap.
2. Put a premium on employee mental wellness education.
You can’t expect that everyone on your team will realize when they’re struggling with a mental health condition. Many employees may have mental health issues and not understand why they’re feeling preoccupied or unwell.
Take clinical depression and similar mood disorders, for example. Pathways, a Utah addiction and rehab recovery center, notes that one in six adults are likely to experience a depressive episode. Yet not everyone knows what’s happening to them or why. Clinically significant mood changes can happen without warning, as in the case of postpartum depression. Sufferers may be unaware that they’re having serious troubles until they feel overwhelmed. For them, being able to spot changes immediately can lead them to get assistance sooner.
Two vehicles for educating your people about mental health are through all-staff webinars and manager-specific training. Webinars allow everyone to hear the same information about mental health, which can spark conversations and deepen understanding of the topic. Manager training sessions are designed to give leaders more confidence when supervising direct reports who are struggling. The latter type of training can also be a valuable way to introduce ethical and compliance-focused considerations. Best of all, you’ll plant the seeds for a stigma-free culture.
3. Normalize the use of PTO.
Does your business make employees feel shamed for taking time away from their work? Do you laud employees who never take time off and always seem to be “on”, even if it’s during non-work hours? If so, you’re setting the scene for unhealthy workers. People need to get away from work regularly or they’ll suffer. Of course, you can’t just tell people to use their PTO; you have to model the behavior and teach other leaders to do likewise.
This doesn’t mean you have to tell everyone when you take a “mental health day”. You can simply schedule yourself off without explaining why. Just be certain that when you’re out of the office, you resist the temptation to respond to emails, texts, and calls. Unless it’s an emergency, you should be protective about keeping yourself work-free for the day.
The good news is that workers seem to be getting better on the whole about using their PTO. Nevertheless, you, your directors, and your management team members may need to prompt workers to take advantage of the PTO they receive.
4. Monitor workplace mental health KPIs.
Today, you have the chance to track almost any data point you want, including those that point to the mental wellbeing of your employees. If you start right now, you can develop a baseline understanding of where your people are. From there, you’ll be able to follow how well your mental health support plans are working.
What are some KPIs that can help you measure mental health among your workforce? Try employee turnover rates, employee satisfaction scores, and (as mentioned above) EAP utilization rates to begin. Once you’ve benchmarked those KPIs, keep gauging them on a monthly or quarterly basis.
You may not see an instant change in your KPIs, but that’s okay. It’s more realistic to expect gradual improvement. In time, you may want to include other KPIs into the mix, too. For now, having just two or three should suffice as a mental health “pulse check”.
Workers with unmet mental health issues can’t bring their whole selves and energies to the office. Instead of expecting your employees to tackle this problem alone, see it as an opportunity to show your support. In return, your team members will bring their best ideas and efforts to the table — and you’ll all log big wins together.
Featured image provided by Nataliya Vaitkevich; Pexels; Thanks!