Between the pandemic and its impact on organizations, job functions and daily life, it’s no wonder that employees are feeling stressed and in many cases, burnt out and anxious. Even prior to 2020, 76% of employees reported having experienced at least some burnout on the job.
While the topic of mental health may have been taboo in the past, organizations have increasingly recognized the importance of focusing on psychological wellbeing since the onset of COVID-19. In fact, 86% of business leaders now report that they are concerned about mental health in the workplace.
While it may be a scratchy subject to broach at work, employers do play an important role in improving or eroding the wellbeing of staff and prioritizing mental health can make a positive difference in the lives of your employees.
Workplace Dynamics that Impact Mental Wellness
According to the World Health Organization, some of the primary factors impacting employees’ psychological health include:
- Poor communication and management
- Limited autonomy over one’s work
- Low levels of employee support
- Unclear tasks or objectives
- Inflexible working hours
- Lack of team cohesion
- Bullying or harassment
You can imagine how the pandemic has likely intensified many of these dynamics with the greater uncertainty, isolation for remote workers and concern over the safety of one’s workplace environment.
Strengthen Your Mental Wellness Programs
For Human Resources and Learning & Development teams who are ready to create or improve upon their wellbeing programs, I invite you to consider the following actions:
- Revise workplace policies
- Promote mental health benefits
- Create team building opportunities
- Coach managers to spot burnout
- Deliver trainings to support psychological wellbeing
- Listen to employees
#1 – Revise Workplace Policies
As a starting point, review your health and safety, paid time off (PTO) and remote working policies. If staff are sharing office space, align your health and safety policies to reflect current best practices and develop a plan to update these procedures regularly.
Next, consider the PTO policies in your employee handbook. Simply including “mental health days” as a possible reason for PTO can advance a culture where your people feel empowered to take care of themselves.
Often, burnout and anxiety occur when employees feel overworked or disconnected, which can be magnified by remote work. Evaluate your work-from-home policies to define off-hours, encourage breaks and extend flexible schedules.
#2 – Promote Mental Health Benefits
Identify opportunities to supplement or call attention to existing offerings. The benefits could come in the form of wellness events or Employee Assistance Programs, which provide vital support services like counseling.
Communicate about the offerings you have. In addition to highlighting the programs in your annual benefits orientation, talk about them in all-staff meetings, company newsletters or on your intranet.
You could also consider starting an Employee Resource Group (ERG) for mental health. Through the ERG, employees can share information, connect with colleagues and promote an environment where it is encouraged to talk about wellbeing from every angle.
#3 – Overcommunicate
In the absence of information, employees may feel lonely or disconnected from one another and the company. To create connection, I encourage you to use a multitude of channels to communicate, including in-person as well as digital options.
At the risk of overcommunicating myself, I invite you to repeat important messages. Particularly when policy changes or important company updates arise, be mindful to share the information many times.
I also recommend training your leaders on communication techniques. By giving managers tools and frameworks like Emergenetics® to help minimize intent-impact gaps and convey information effectively, you can meet the needs of all staff.
#4 – Create Team Building Opportunities
Building camaraderie between employees helps to enhance psychological wellbeing. Try hosting virtual events like happy hours or team building exercises to nurture positive, supportive relationships.
Peer-to-peer employee recognition programs are another method to encourage teams to connect and demonstrate that your employees value one another, which supports engagement and mental wellness.
Investing in professional development with trainings like Team Dynamics for Small Groups or the Meeting of the Minds can cultivate team cohesion while also helping staff improve communication and collaboration.
#5 – Coach Managers to Spot Burnout
While some employees are likely to tell you when they feel overwhelmed or anxious, others may not. Direct supervisors are usually in the best position to assess how team members are feeling.
To support psychological health, coach people leaders on telltale signs of burnout. Some of those challenges could include concentration issues, excessive fears or mood changes. You can also reference this blog post to discover stress signals through the Emergenetics Attributes.
In addition to helping managers identify strain, share resources to help them support staff – whether through coping techniques or simply extending empathy and a listening ear.
#6 – Deliver Trainings to Support Psychological Wellbeing
If you wish to offer specific mental health trainings, be sure to do your research and partner with trusted providers. You can also deliver related trainings to support your employees. Try sourcing mindfulness programs, centering exercises or yoga.
Another avenue may be to provide strengths-based trainings like Emergenetics. Programs that celebrate employees’ natural tendencies build self-confidence and help people understand what energizes them. All of which have a positive impact on wellness.
A third tangential curriculum is financial fitness. Stress and anxiety often increase when employees are concerned about money. By delivering financial trainings, sharing resources or bringing in outside experts, your team members can realize a multitude of benefits.
#7 – Listen to Your Employees
Mental wellness will mean different things to different people. To create the programs that will have the greatest impact, I invite you to ask your staff what they need.
Use surveys to solicit feedback and input as you shape your programs. For team members that are open, you could also host focus groups or one-on-one interviews to solicit additional information.
Be mindful to ask for input regularly. On any given day, your employees may experience any number of challenges and opportunities. By staying connected to their experiences, you can adapt your offerings to support their evolving needs.
If you want to create an engaging, motivating employee experience that truly supports your staff, it’s important that psychological wellness moves to the forefront. By introducing thoughtful programming and listening to employees, you can destigmatize the discussion and find solutions to help your people and your company thrive.
Interested in learning more about how Emergenetics programming can support employee wellness? Get started today by exploring our virtual programs or fill out the form below to speak with one of our team members.
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