Prioritizing employee wellbeing needs to be a tenet of your culture.
There. We said it.
Employee wellbeing is the mental and physical health of an employee: their stress levels, the amount of time they spend sitting, their hours, and their feeling of safety and comfort. While not all of this is within HR’s control, by integrating wellbeing support and resources into organizational culture, HR will be able to create an environment where employees and managers respect wellbeing, honor boundaries, and pursue a healthy work-life balance.
HR has a wealth of wellbeing resources at their fingertips to help keep their culture healthy and vibrant. Read on for an in-depth look at different kinds of wellbeing support and how your managers should be supporting your peoples’ mental wellness.
Wellbeing resources for HR
There are a number of existing wellbeing support resources to help HR admins give their people what they need to succeed.
Emotional wellbeing and mental health
In a 2019 report about mental health in the workplace, the WHO reported “every $1 put into scaled up treatment for common mental disorders, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity.” With depression and anxiety costing the American economy an estimated 1 trillion dollars per year, that kind of ROI is staggering.
HR admins have a number of mental health resources at their disposal to improve employee wellbeing, including:
- Employee assistance programs (EAPs). EAPs are ubiquitous to organizations supporting their peoples’ mental health needs, with a 2019 Gartner survey reporting that, of the organizations that offer mental and emotional well-being programs, all surveyed provide employee assistance programs (EAPs). EAPs are benefit programs designed to support employees with personal and/or work-related problems that may impact their productivity, health, and mental/emotional well-being. Implementing an EAP is a basic way to show employees that you support their mental health needs.
- Virtual counseling services. Distance therapy services such as Lyra offer employees budget-friendly, private therapy sessions. Providing therapy support will allow your employees to access mental health services that are often unaffordable or unavailable in certain regions.
- Meditation apps. Meditation has a proven impact on productivity, with even a minute of meditation shown to reduce anxiety in the workplace. Sponsoring memberships to meditation apps and services will encourage your employees to get in those “mindfulness minutes.”
- Anonymous reporting. The EU requires organizations to implement a solution for anonymous whistleblowing, and rightfully so. Enforcing cultural safety in the workplace increases feelings of belonging and engagement, leading employees to feel more secure and productive in their work environment.
(Want to learn more about cultural safety? Check out our guide.)
According to the WHO, best practices for improving mental health in the workplace include:
- Implementation and enforcement of health and safety policies and practices, including identification of distress, harmful use of psychoactive substances and illness and providing resources to manage them;
- Informing staff that support is available;
- Involving employees in decision-making, conveying a feeling of control and participation; organizational practices that support a healthy work-life balance;
- Programs for career development of employees; and
- Recognizing and rewarding the contribution of employees.
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The manager’s role in promoting wellbeing
People are tired. A study of Microsoft employees shows that we’re working more hours, having more meetings, sending more chat messages, and having a harder time signing off. They reported that, since employees were sent home due to COVID-19, the percentage of chats sent between 6 PM and midnight has increased by 52%. All of these meetings and IMs are adding up: people can’t focus during the day, so they’re logging on at night.
Your managers can fix this. Encourage managers to maintain regular communication with employees in order to reduce WFH isolation, but also to catch any issues early. If a once-punctual employee seems to be missing meetings and deadlines, an active manager should be able to identify this as an early symptom of burnout and work with the employee to get them back on track.
Managers and HR should work together to reduce stress in the workplace. By making a conscious effort to stay in touch with employees and supportive of their wellness journeys, you can make a big difference in their lives—and productivity.