Have you noticed more employees struggling with mental health? In the fourth quarter of 2020, Gartner, Inc. surveyed over 5,000 employees. They found a 29 percent self-described rate of depression in the workforce. Participants described the COVID-19 pandemic as the main cause.
There is no doubt that poor employee mental health impacts many aspects of your business. But what’s the best approach to having a conversation about mental health for employees? Keep reading to find strategies to open communication with your workers.
Mental Health for Employees
COVID-19 has generated many challenges for employers and their employees. Some workers are eager to get back to work while others are more reluctant. While regaining their income is helpful it may not solve all the pandemic anxieties.
Using an upfront and proactive approach to addressing mental health can normalize it. Demonstrate that it’s common to have fears, uncertainty, and other challenges.
Provide education and resources to assist with safe living during the pandemic. Give employees trusted resources such as the World Health Organization and the CDC.
Impact of Employee Mental Health on Businesses
Did you know that globally, the leading cause of disability is depression? This has increased with the pandemic and negatively impacts job performance.
Workers battle burnout when juggling multiple jobs, childcare, and other responsibilities. Depression can make simple tasks seem overwhelming. Interpersonal communication may suffer and lead to discord among staff and with customers.
You may also experience employee presenteeism. This describes a person who’s at work but isn’t fully functioning due to mental health issues. They may miss deadlines, make more errors, or fail to participate in meetings.
U.S. companies lose about 217 million productive days due to mental health issues. This includes both absenteeism and presenteeism.
How to Talk About Mental Health with Employees
The first step to learning how to talk about mental health is to reduce the stigma. Previously, admitting to having depression, anxiety, or other problems could ruin your career. Thus, employees actively suppressed this information.
Broach the subject by discussing how common it is to struggle with these issues. Describe the pandemic’s toll on people’s lives and resources.
Talk about the micro-level factors including interpersonal relationships with co-workers and supervisors. Also, include the macro-level stressors such as job security and home life.
These create assaults on their overall health and wellbeing. Provide resources for workers to seek help such as free or low-cost mental health visits.
Train your managers to recognize symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other disorders. Create a true environment of concern with questions like, “How are you really doing today?” This demonstrates that you welcome an honest answer and not the rote, “I’m fine”, response.
Remember that the Americans with Disabilities Act limits some employer interactions. For example, you may not ask directly about an employee’s mental health at work. You may never discriminate based on their condition.
Reassure staff members that promotions, assignments, or terminations won’t be affected. Then make sure this promise is kept.
Consider inviting a wellness coach or mental health professional from outside the company. They may conduct a seminar and/or be available to speak with individuals. This may help employees feel more comfortable opening up about their concerns.
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