Mental health isn’t often spoken about at work. We’ve seen more high-profile conversations about mental health pop into the news, but many people struggle to take mental health seriously. On the flip side, the World Health Organization (WHO) considers mental health in its definition of health, and about 1 in 5 U.S. adults struggle with mental health issues. Employees are struggling due to COVID-19 and the isolation that comes from remote work, so it’s imperative that organizational leaders support their employees’ mental health.
COVID-19, Mental Health, And Workplace Productivity
The pandemic has been a considerable shared trauma experience for employees across the globe. We are all dealing with the impacts of living and working during the outbreak in our own unique ways. For many employees, this includes mental health issues.
According to The Standard, 65% of employees lost 10+ hours of productivity per week due to mental health during the pandemic. This number is up dramatically from the previous number of 58% pre-pandemic. Losing ten hours of productivity can do a lot of damage during the workweek. When you add this to reports that meetings have gone up by 13% during the pandemic (taking up extra work time), this loss of productivity is astonishing.
Mental health has an even larger impact on younger generations. The Standard has shared that 59% of Millennials and 71% of Gen-Z reported mental health issues during the current pandemic. TouchCare even reported that Gen-Z’s use of mental healthcare benefits increased by 300% during the pandemic.
In our 2021 Working Americans' State Of Stress Report, we noted that nearly 60% of workers reported mental health issues, including an inability to concentrate and feelings of anxiety, depression, and burnout.
You may know someone who has struggled with mental health in the workplace. For example, I have a colleague who has developed anxiety and high blood pressure as a result of the happenings of the past year — this has led her to have honest conversations with her manager about workload and taking the time she needs to take care of herself.
What Leaders Can Do To Support Their Employees’ Mental Health
You understand that mental health is essential, but now you might be wondering what leaders can do to support their employees’ mental health. Here are a few of the strategies our Grokker customers have found helpful.
Acknowledge The Problem
Now that you know the problem exists, acknowledge it with your employees. Your employees want to be heard and validated, especially with all that’s happening in the world and the workplace today. Let employees know that you are actively researching and understanding mental health issues due to the pandemic (and any other prominent stressors in your industry).
Show Employees That You Are Willing To Help
Next, you’ll also want to show employees that you care. Break the taboo by acknowledging your own mental health issues when they arise. Don’t be afraid to take a mental health day when you need it, and encourage your employees to do the same. Book a few hours on your calendar every month. During those hours, listen to your employees and what they need from you as a leader. Your employees will appreciate your candidness and follow your lead to protect their own mental health.
Provide Resources That Make A Difference
Besides mental health days, you’ll want to examine other potential resources to help your employees succeed. Thankfully many resources exist today to help people with their mental health, and you can easily invest in those resources as an organization.
- Better Health insurance. If you want to support better mental health, take a look at your current insurance policies. Do they cover your employees’ essential mental health needs? Your employees will be more willing to seek out help if they don’t have to come out of pocket for those resources.
- Employee Resource Groups. If you have a large organization, consider putting together some employee resource groups that your employees can join to get advice from their peers, such as “working moms,” “LGBTQ network,” or even “mental health advocates.” Encourage these groups to meet regularly to chat, pull their resources, and vent.
- On-demand technology that supports mental health. Mental health is important, and there are technology companies that are determined to help connect your employees with the wellbeing resources they need. By investing in these on-demand resources, like Grokker, your employees can pick activities and classes that resonate with their current mental health needs — and begin to feel better.
Supporting Your Employees’ Mental Health Is Simpler Than You Think
We are all facing a new normal, and that may include mental health issues for some of your employees. As an employer, you don’t have to sit on the sidelines. There are actionable things you can do to help your employees cope with their new reality. From acknowledging the problem to providing helpful resources for your team, you can feel empowered to help those you manage.