Mental health priorities in the Business World


Businesses can no longer ignore the impact of mental health on corporate culture and work experience.

Employee well-being is becoming increasingly important as businesses update their physical spaces to reflect the latest health recommendations. Over the past year, our work habits and challenges have changed significantly.

Due to the pandemic, employees are suddenly forced to work from home with their spouses, roommates, children and pets. This made working from home more difficult, but the work the staff had to look at increased, not diminished.

Surprisingly, 83% of workers said their job requirements had increased. We are doing more than ever before, with no clear separation between home and work. It’s getting harder and harder to get out of what you’re doing. So these changes are taking a toll 85% of workers say that mental health problems at work have a negative impact on their family life.

One of the many things we’ve learned over the past year is that people are committed to their work. As a result, HR is working more to prioritize the health of its employees in the workplace.

Employee welfare means business success

As time passes and the COVID-19 pandemic ends, positive mental health and well-being will still remain a priority for employees and employers. Dr. Mark Parrish, Nordic Regional Medical Director, International SOS Health Consulting Services, has been collaborating with companies around the world since the beginning of the pandemic. He said that just as physical health affects mental health, vice versa. While making a workplace physically safer is much easier than creating a healthy environment (overall health is long-term and difficult to measure), in practice, contemplation and strong strategies to promote all aspects of physical and mental health go hand in hand. must be related. 

In the wake of the pandemic, employers are realizing the need for support as they value and recognize the health of their employees. To manage this need, businesses need systems in place. It will be observed in the long term, for example, 3-5 years, but the impact will be significant.

Making the workplace safe and prioritizing the overall health of employees creates a positive cycle by affecting their work performance and mental health. WeWork has met and talked to hundreds of leaders responsible for millions of people, and health and safety are common concerns for all. According to a survey of 500 HR leaders , the HR department is placing a new focus on employee support in the following ways:

  • 98% of employers say they plan to expand benefits in some form
  • 68% said they would increase work flexibility
  • 63% said they would implement parenting benefits
  • 61% already provide some form of mental health benefit, 41% plan to expand this benefit

Making the workplace safer can have a positive cyclical effect as it can affect employee performance and mental health.

The role of employers and employees 

Myra Altman, vice president of clinical practice at Modern Health , said, “The line between work and home is blurry right now, so finding a way to create a mental separation between the two would help.” Although this method will vary from person to person, intentional timing, dress changes, dedicated workspaces, and commuting simulations can also be helpful. 

Wisecarver said that teams can move away from the tendency to get more done in a day and agree to set times for them to stop working and meet meetings instead.

CLEAR ‘s vice president of healthcare, Marisa Bass, says while moving to a permanent, hybrid work model, it’s important to remove the pressure of having a flawless plan from the start, worry-free. Instead, leaders can acknowledge both areas of clear understanding and areas that still need to be addressed. 

These lines of communication are important to providing psychological safety not only for the employees, but also for the leaders themselves, Bass says. Bass emphasized that the employees are far apart from each other, so we need to recreate the casual interactions like chatting in front of a water purifier. These days, it may be a deliberate call to say hello or what the other team is up to, but in the new world of work, maintaining a community is essential. 

Knowing when to pause and when to reach out to help each other is important for everyone. Leaders can set an example by being candid about their mental health care and acknowledging weaknesses. It can be as simple as sharing with your coach what you are exploring or what you are learning through meditation. It could also be extended to efforts to encourage employees to use vacation time or support parents in filling in the blanks on their calendars around their children’s schedules.

Techniques that help you when used correctly 

There is evidence that too much technology can be detrimental to your mental health, but when used creatively, technology can help support your mental health goals, says Altman. 

Marking a time schedule for meditation or a walk on your calendar is one of the simplest ways to show that these times are just as important as any other task on your to-do list. There are also meditation apps and digital cognitive behavioral therapy tools worth checking out. At the team level, many organizations are implementing meeting-free days with video turned off, more breaks, more work. Modern Health, for example, has no Wednesday meetings. 

Another way technology can positively impact mental health is teletherapy. Almost all mental health care has been delivered via video over the past year, and evidence is showing that video therapy is just as effective as face-to-face care, Altman said. People also appreciate the convenience and no commuting time. 

Primary care has also rapidly transitioned to digital platforms. Dr. Will Kimbrough, senior medical director for clinical services at One Medical , says his team has migrated traditional primary care services to virtual access. Not only are more people embracing this approach, but the percentage of bookings and no-shows and last-minute cancellations has dropped significantly. 

It is also helping to close the primary care gap that began to widen in the first months after lockdown. COVID-19 has forced doctors to do more telemedicine. Dr. Parrish says that this approach needs to be strengthened and other skills that will help with the job will continue to emerge. 

A new way to take sick leave

A year ago, it was normal for employees to go to work even if they were not feeling well. It was almost unconscious. In general, sick leave was only requested for conditions more serious than the common cold. But Dr. Kimbrough is optimistic that the acceptable standards for staying at home will expand as the coronavirus offers new perspectives on the spread of germs and vaginal infections. 

Organizations can’t say that health isn’t important anymore or that mental health isn’t important, Altman says. We don’t just exist in the workplace. We exist in families and in various social situations. Each aspect of our lives affects others. 

Many companies are trying to answer the question, “How do I make people feel safe and valued in the workplace?” as they link humanity to productivity in the workplace. Research proves the dual benefits of focusing on employee well-being, not just for your employees, but for everything from company culture to bottom line. 

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