For decades, organizations have recognized the benefits of providing employees access to emotional wellbeing support. Beyond duty-to-care, these companies understand that when employees struggle with mental health issues like anxiety, burnout, or depression, there are ripple effects that impact overall organizational health. For example, depression, which is the leading cause of disability worldwide, costs U.S. employers approximately 35 billion a year in reduced performance at work.
While unmanaged emotional health issues can be a detriment to organizations, research shows that when an employee partners with a professional counselor, even on a short-term basis, the impact can be transformative. The 2020 Workplace Outcomes study found that short-term counseling delivered by employee assistance programs resulted in improvements in presenteeism, absenteeism, workplace distress, and life satisfaction.
Unfortunately, lack of awareness or reluctance to access support often prevents employees from receiving the help they need. To reap the full benefits of an employee wellbeing program, organizations must be intentional about demonstrating both the availability and value of emotional wellbeing. It is also critical to address mental health stigma head-on.
5 Ways to Elevate Employee Wellbeing in the Workplace
- Engage leaders and influencers. CEOs and the executive team ultimately set the tone of an organization when it comes to emotional wellbeing. Is the organization silent or dismissive when it comes to mental health or proactive and outspoken? When leaders at the very top make emotional health a priority, it is much easier to convince employees that they will not face repercussions for reaching out for support.
- Educate your managers. As the eyes and ears of the organization, line managers are in the best position to recognize an employee struggling emotionally and point them to available resources. However, since not all managers are familiar with the symptoms of emotional distress or comfortable discussing emotional wellbeing, organizations need to train managers in this important role.
- Develop mental health ambassadors. Mental health ambassadors are employees responsible for promoting the importance of emotional wellbeing and serving as point persons for employees seeking non-judgmental support. Typically, ambassadors receive formal training on how to best respond to employees who are in distress.
- Communicate year-round. Too many organizations mention their emotional wellbeing resources as part of the employee onboarding process or annual benefits update, but then never discuss it again. Throughout the year and across multiple channels, it is important to remind employees about the availability of these confidential resources and how to access them. In addition to sharing this messaging via email and the employee intranet, leaders should address it during town halls and on platforms like Yammer or Slack.
- Address stigma. One of the best ways to help employees overcome mental health stigma is to have organizational leaders and influencers share their own emotional wellbeing journey. By highlighting their own experience with stress, anxiety, depression, burnout, mindfulness, counseling, etc., employees will recognize they are not alone, better understand how available resources can help, and, most importantly, be inspired to reach out for support.
Workplace Options helps employees balance their work, family, and personal needs to become healthier, happier, and more productive, both personally and professionally. The company’s world-class employee support, effectiveness, and wellbeing services provide information, resources, referrals, and consultation on a variety of issues ranging from dependent care and stress management to clinical services and wellness programs. To learn more visit www.workplaceoptions.com.
Disclaimer: This document is intended for general information only. It does not provide the reader with specific direction, advice, or recommendations. You may wish to contact an appropriate professional for questions concerning your particular situation.