Health and Safety

Mental Health in the Workplace: How Are Your Employees Coping?

May 27, 2020

When your employees have a difficult time, do they have somewhere they can go for support? The stigma around mental health issues is slowly fading, but we have more work to do when it comes to supporting mental health and wellness in the workplace.

Everyone goes through difficult times, and it can sometimes feel like those difficult times have become never-ending. What employers and HR professionals do to support employees can make a huge difference in a company’s culture, employee retention, and overall well-being. How you act when an employee is struggling says a lot about what you value as a company. Take a minute to think: what does your organization do right now to help employees overcome adversity and thrive?

At HRdownloads, we support our employees’ physical and mental well-being by providing complimentary fitness memberships and access to a variety of health and wellness services. More than just perks, we also find ways to help our team stay connected, because staying connected makes our team feel supported.

We encourage managers to check in with employees often and talk to them about how they are really doing. Using their one-on-one time to get to know their team member personally not only makes the manager–employee relationship stronger, it also helps to identify if or when a person is struggling. By taking a personal approach and encouraging an internal sense of community spirit, supporting each other has become integral to our culture.

Working from home can make it even more challenging to keep track of how employees are doing, not to mention there can be added stress from factors like technology challenges or taking care of family. Identifying signs of an employee struggling with a mental illness might be difficult when they aren’t in the office, but checking in often can help. Ask, “How are you doing?” or, “Is there anything you are struggling with?” to help open the conversation. Communicate with your entire team often and remind them of the resources they have access to. Some employees may be struggling but feel uncomfortable talking about it with a manager or employer because of embarrassment or a fear of being viewed differently.

We’ve heard some great stories from organizations that take time out of their day to get together and just hang out online. Some teams have virtual coffee breaks together; others have a casual call at the end of a workweek. Whatever you do, making the time to connect in some way with the virtual members of your team can help build employee relationships.

So how do you know whether you are doing enough to support mental well-being? More importantly, how do you know whether what you’re doing is making a difference? Just ask! Surveys are a great way to get feedback from employees and find out how they really feel. Allowing for anonymous responses helps employees feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts. 

Once you have the employee feedback, share with your team what you’re doing with it. Nothing is more disappointing to an employee than providing feedback and not seeing or hearing about any changes.

To start communicating and sharing mental health resources with your team, download our Mental Health in the Workplace Employee Guide. When you share this with your team, also indicate the specific support your organization offers so employees know where they can go. Don’t have any yet? It’s OK, we offer a few suggestions in our guide that are free resources your employees can use.

Of course, taking care of your own well-being is important too. Stay tuned for our next blog post, which will address the added responsibilities HR professionals and managers may be feeling and some tools you can use to help.

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