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The state of work has drastically changed over the last couple of years. Employees are working from home and while the majority of them enjoy their new found flexibility, life and work in the times of COVID have left a mark on today’s workforce.
That is why many employers are starting to offer mental health support to their in-office and remote workers. Here’s how you can join them.
It is estimated by the World Health Organisation that 20% of the adult working population has some type of mental health problem at any given time. These issues can have a serious and lasting impact on a person’s physical ability as well, with 5 of the 10 leading causes of disability worldwide being directly related to mental health problems.
As if these numbers aren’t gruelling enough, the impact of these mental health problems has serious consequences for both the individual being affected by it, as well as the company employing them, as mental health problems are impacting their performance and increasing their sick days.
In the United Kingdom, for example, 80 million work days are lost every year due to mental illnesses, leading to a monetary loss in the billions in the UK alone.
All of these facts combined show just how important it is that employers start offering mental health support to their teams.
There are many ways in which an employer can support the mental health of employees. However, when dealing with a remote team that is distributed all over the world, this has to be adapted to fit the remote work setup.
An attractive benefit’s package in today’s day and age should include mental health support, aka giving your employees access to a mental health professional. This could be done in-house for booked sessions with employees who are able and willing to come to the office, but should also be offered online in virtual appointments for remote workers.
To be even more inclusive to all employees no matter their location, some companies opt for a paid subscription to digital therapy services such as BetterHelp in their benefits package. This allows employees to get help whenever and wherever they need it.
Another great way to shine a light on the importance of mental health in your company is by holding regular workshops and trainings that talk about the effects mental health has on our life and work, and to share guidance around what your employees can do if they need support.
But mental health benefits also include physical activities such as yoga classes or massage therapy, as well as access to meditation apps or fitness trackers to help build healthy habits even before more severe mental issues occur.
Unfortunately, there is still quite a bit of stigma around mental health, and people affected by it might feel as if they can’t openly talk about their struggles. That’s why fostering an open and honest way of communication within your teams is the first step in preventing severe mental health related impacts on your company.
Make mental health a priority, bringing it up in your 1:1 feedback sessions as well as team meetings, and regularly checking in with your employees to see if you can notice any signs of overwork and tiredness. Realising early on when something is not right and an individual needs support can help you prevent more serious consequences.
One major cause for mental health issues is feeling isolated. This is more likely to affect remote employees who are working from home and are not socialising with their colleagues. Therefore, creating a welcoming work culture is even more important when working with a remote team.
Organise regular socialising events and hangouts that are not related to work topics. This could be a Friday afternoon get together with pizza and drinks, or online games that you can play together.
Another thing to consider is starting a buddy program. Assigning a more experienced team member to mentor a new hire is a great way to combat the feeling of isolation and uncertainty in remote setups, and can help foster a more intimate and friendly work culture.
Finally, all the talk in the world about asking for help and taking care of yourself is worth nothing if you don’t take your own advice. Be mindful about the example you are setting for your employees, especially around expected working hours and communication etiquette.
If you talk about work life balance but continuously reply to emails after hours or on weekends, your employees will probably start following your example. The same is true for team events and socialising opportunities. If you constantly show up late, leave virtual hangouts early, or cancel altogether, it shows a lack of priority for socialising and will eventually cause your team to stop attending these events as well.
So make sure you practise what you preach and set a glowing example in your company’s mental health journey.
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