Most people spend about 1/3 of their lives working. Unfortunately, for many, that time is filled with stress.

83% of American workers are stressed by their jobs. Stress can lead to mental health issues like anxiety and depression (and quickly cause burnout in the workplace). 

As an HR pro, fostering a work environment supporting employee mental health (where everyone can feel a sense of belonging) is essential. You can do your part by boosting mental health awareness and supporting your employees by meeting their emotional needs. 

employee mental health
Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

Understanding the importance of increasing employee mental health awareness is the first step toward building a healthier business culture.

Let’s discuss how you can do it, plus different strategies to increase support (and reduce stress) for your team. 

Why Employee Mental Health is Important

Mental health in the workplace is important for many reasons. From a business standpoint, workers struggling with stress, anxiety, or burnout might struggle at work.

Look out for these common symptoms of burnout in your employees: 

  • Low productivity
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Low motivation
  • Fatigue
  • Little interest in things they enjoy

Employees who are overly stressed or anxious will not be able to focus on their job. They might even end up resenting the work they do.

Burnt-out employees are more likely to be absent frequently and won’t perform at their top level.

When you choose not to do anything about the stress in your workplace, you’re also more likely to lose employees, and gain a reputation making it difficult to hire top talent

Simply put, when your employees are suffering, your business suffers too. 

4 Ways to Increase Mental Health Awareness

Unfortunately, there is still a stigma surrounding mental health, especially in many professional settings. As an HR pro, you can fight back against this stigma.

HR is usually the first department a new employee deals with after getting hired. It’s up to you to set the tone on mental health in your work environment, so make it a priority to encourage communication and provide mental health training as often as you see fit. 

Evaluate the benefits you offer

Look at your current health plans. Do they support mental health needs? If not, it could be time for a change. You can also offer voluntary benefits that support mental health, including gym memberships or spa visits at reduced costs. 

Make mental health awareness part of onboarding training

Employees should know how to look for signs of stress, anxiety, and depression in themselves (and other employees). More importantly, they should feel comfortable bringing their concerns to HR, even if it’s anonymously. 

Set up an employee portal

This allows employees to send messages directly to HR without having to approach anyone in person. This is a great way to help people feel more comfortable discussing mental health issues.

Have regular check-ins with your team

This could include creating Zoom meetings with each person once a week or stopping by their desk to chat for a few minutes. These little check-ins might not seem like much, but they let your employees know they are valued, and you’ll learn more about what’s going on in their lives (that might make you rethink their mental health needs). 

How Can You Support Employee Mental Health?  

Along with fostering a culture of mental wellness, you can also boost employee morale (and reduce stress) by considering other things to benefit your team.

One of the best things you can provide for stressed workers is more flexible scheduling. Consider allowing employees to work on a hybrid schedule (or remotely).

Commuting long distances to work each day can be harmful, putting your employees at risk of: 

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Car accidents
  • A poor work-life balance
  • The inability to “turn off” after a day of work

Whether you have people in the office or at home, it’s also good practice to encourage frequent breaks and even a few extra days off. Encouraging responsible screentime is one option. These are small solutions that go a long way. 

You can also encourage a better work-life balance by offering childcare services or giving employees a gift card to their favorite restaurant, so they can go out with their families.

When employees feel valued, they’re less likely to let stress take them down, and more likely to stay loyal to your business. 

Why I Wrote This:

Working in HR might not give you all of the power to implement workplace changes. But, you can do your part to influence your business’s environment, and ensure every employee who gets hired understands your company takes mental wellness seriously.

And, if you’re offering benefits supporting employee mental health, be sure to list them in your job descriptions. Ongig’s software ensures you aren’t missing important sections (like mental health benefits) in your JDs. Please request a demo to learn more.

This is a guest post from Ainsley Lawrence. Ainsley is a writer who loves to talk about good health, balanced life, and better living through technology. She is frequently lost in a good book.

Ainsley Lawrence

by in HR Content