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Employment Engagement

Tips for Supporting the Mental Health of Your Employees

Clock6 min. read
byVexxit Staff onJanuary 27, 2021

This pandemic has been difficult on all of our mental health. As leaders, we need to be proactive and implement strategies that will support our people. Here are a few strategies that you can easily implement to assist employees dealing with mental health concerns.

This COVID-19 pandemic is testing the mental health and fortitude of us all. Since the first wave of the virus began, we’ve endured heightened emotional and financial stressors along with fear and uncertainty about the future. According to recent surveys by Angus Reid, Leger Opinion (LEO) and others, half of Canadians polled report that their mental health has deteriorated during the pandemic. While individuals play a role in managing their own mental health and wellness, as employers we also play a role in supporting the mental health of the people we employ. Employees struggling with stress, anxiety or other mental health issues are less engaged, less productive, and unable to focus on work. That can have devastating impacts on your work environment and on your bottom-line. 

We need a healthy and mentally engaged workforce to manage through this crisis. We cannot afford to simply ignore the issue of mental health and hope that it goes away. As leaders, we need to be proactive and implement strategies that will support our people. Here are a few tips and strategies that you can easily implement to assist employees dealing with mental health concerns or mental fatigue brought on by the pandemic. 

Communicate openly and communicate often

In times of uncertainty, people need clear and honest communication to help alleviate fear and anxiety. Be authentic and give employees the straight goods. Don’t try to sugarcoat it or make promises you know you can’t keep. Share any company changes or updates resulting from the pandemic, including work hour changes and any changes to workload or expectations. Maintaining open and honest communication is essential for supporting the mental health and well-being of your employees.

Ask employees how they are and really listen

As an employer, you have a responsibility to check-in on your employees to ensure that they have access to the tools and resources they need to manage their mental health during these trying times. For you to recognize that an employee is struggling with mental health issues, you need to be willing to ask employees how they are and how they’re feeling about the current situation. Listen to their responses and give them the opportunity to express their primary concerns, such as fatigue or loneliness.

Promote mental health resources

Inform your employees about the mental health programs and resources that are available to them. If you have an Employee Assistance Program or other internal human resource tools and programs, be sure to make that information readily available. Let employees know about other programs and services available to them through the CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association), CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) or other government programs. Consider creating policies and initiatives around mental health, including training resources, policy creation, intervention and treatment options. 

Encourage work-life balance and flexibility

A healthy work-life balance can significantly reduce stress, and without it, productivity may suffer. Since stress is one of the leading contributors to mental illness, it’s important that you set reasonable expectations for employees. With so many people now working from home because of COVID, the lines between work life and home life have been blurred, which is why setting clear boundaries between work and personal time is crucial. It’s also helpful to customize your approach to dealing with employee stressors, such as childcare challenges or other caretaking responsibilities. Be as flexible as realistically possible to accommodate employees dealing with stressors outside the workplace. 

Make mental health education a priority

Mental health training in the workplace promotes awareness and understanding of this health issue. It also encourages acceptance and helps end the stigma often associated with mental health. Implementing mental health training to identify issues can help employees and managers handle them successfully. To augment mental health training, you can also provide employees with self-help tools and programs, empowering them to manage their own mental health and well-being. 

Provide opportunities to connect

To minimize the feelings of isolation and loneliness, create ways for your employees to regularly connect at work. Make it a priority to interact with one another throughout the week. Although social distancing is still the norm, you can find ways to help people connect. As an example, you can hold team meetings via videoconferencing to help remote workers feel less isolated or introduce virtual lunches (coffee breaks, group chats) to boost employee morale. 

There is no question that the coronavirus pandemic has taken a big toll on our mental health and we will continue to experience the impact for many years to come. It’s important that we acknowledge the impact of mental health issues and engage in open dialogue to support employees struggling to cope. Promoting the mental health of your employees is a wise investment that will lead to long-term productivity, employee retention, strong company culture and financial gain.

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