Emotional Wellness: An Employer’s Priority
Employee productivity is a top priority for companies today and they do everything possible to help people reach their true potential. Regardless of whether it is about engagement activities or the provision of the required services, companies are developing a variety of approaches to create a positive work environment and increase productivity. The latest thing on the leg is the rise of employee wellness programs.
Working conditions are changing in most organizations, and high-pressure work is becoming the norm around the clock. Businesses are recognizing the negative effects of work-life balance demands, many of which can lead to serious mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Organizations therefore take proactive measures by recognizing and supporting employees with special psychological needs. No wonder we are seeing the rise of wellness programs, with emotional wellbeing being a central part of such programs.
The statistics on emotional health are alarming to say the least. The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that almost one in five adults (18.1%) have a mental illness. Many of them are working professionals, and such emotional imbalance is sure to interfere with optimal levels of performance. The result is that employers are developing holistic mental health strategy programs with components such as yoga, healthy eating, counseling support, etc.
HR can go a long way for this population and help them help themselves. The first step in implementing such a program is to identify what the problem is. To do this, HR must work with managers to identify potential goals by maintaining a continuous connection with their employees and getting to know them personally. It is important that the line manager monitor work behavior regularly. For example, if you are consistently late for work, resentful of coworkers, etc., these are tell-tale signs of an underlying problem.
Supervisors must be trained to communicate about the possibility of a mental health problem as the employee can become defensive. It is important that a manager points out the observed problem / behavior and offers help and encourages the employee to open up. After that, employees need to be made aware of the opportunity to take advantage of the mental health program and help them reach out to the resourceful people. The HR department needs to play its role by speaking to such employees and offering options for mental wellbeing as part of the performance framework.
Communication is critical to the success of employee health initiatives. Companies should run awareness programs and use inclusion methods to prevent employees from marginalizing a colleague with a mental illness. Ernst and Young, for example, started a “ru Ok” program that included videos of employee experiences, shared information on how to identify a person with psychological stress, and gave tips on how to talk to such colleagues. Another great way to address this is by offering Mental Health First Aid courses to equip people with the knowledge and skills to identify and address a mental health problem.
The next important aspect is designing and deploying the right infrastructure to expand the support you need. A number of organizations offer complete packages for employee support programs. You can outsource part of it to maintain the anonymity of the program, but control must be with the internal HR department. Human Resources may decide to hire or work with a psychologist or psychiatrist who will be available on certain days of the week to scientifically diagnose and cure emotional disorders.
The most important step in ensuring that emotional wellbeing programs are working is realizing that it can affect anyone, regardless of hierarchy, age, class, role, etc. It is the responsibility of HR to manage these social (and job-related) challenge in the foreground, in the open air, in order to be discussed, understood and uprooted at the grassroots level. Companies that do this successfully will not only improve productivity dramatically, but will also gain the trust of their employees and help them become a preferred employer brand.