17 Jan 2022
The importance of employee wellbeing and mental health has taken a top spot on the HR agenda during the pandemic and how to address issues has become a priority for many HR teams. The stigma previously attached to talking about mental health has changed and we are now much more comfortable talking about it. However, HR should continue to challenge attitudes and understand that mental health looks different for everyone. More employers than ever are committed to employee health and well being, but there is still room for improvement. Companies need to be proactive in their approach to support employee mental health, as people begin to show signs of “Covid fatigue”.
Studies show that a large percentage of employees want their employer to care about their mental health and would stay with an employer that is providing high quality mental health resources. These resources are far more important to an employee than the usual “perks” and discounts. To prevent loss of employees to competitors providing services that raise the profile of and support mental health, now is the time to ensure good practice in support of employee wellbeing is at the forefront of HR.
Conversely, it may be that your leadership team implemented mental health benefits to “tick a box” and now feel those benefits can be reduced or removed once the pandemic is over. But, as restrictions ease it is only too apparent that many employees are experiencing health issues, some of which could prove to be long-term. So, benefits and support are as important as ever. Covid did not create the mental health crisis; it was the circumstances around it that forced employers and employees to confront one that was already happening. People were already dealing with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues and, as we approach two years of living with Covid, it’s understandable that many are exhausted by constant precautions and restrictions, exacerbating pre-existing mental health issues.
With a successful vaccine programme and relaxation of restrictions, there may be a growing sense of ‘business as usual’, but we may never return to the workplace we left in early 2020. To support employees through the months ahead here are some ways in which you can address mental health:
- Conduct wellbeing check-ins and give employees a voice to express concerns
- Promote healthy lifestyles and offer access to benefits that support this, e.g. wellness days, meditation, yoga classes
- Offer flexible working to support personal choice, such as a 4-day work week or a continuation of remote working options
- Communicate effectively and ensure that you accept and act on feedback
- Train managers on how to respond to and address mental health concerns, thereby ensuring your workplace is a safe space your for employees
Let 2022 be the year you take a proactive approach towards positive mental health and wellbeing and consider what you can do to improve happiness in the workplace. It will make a difference and help to prevent Covid fatigue (and the mental health issues it amplifies) becoming the next pandemic.
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Article originally published on HR Grapevine January 2022.