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    With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s clear that there’s still plenty of work to be done when it comes to employee well-being and de-stigmatization of mental health in the workplace.

    As an employer, you have the power to create a culture of support for your employees’ well-being, from offering resources that promote mental health to creating an environment where employees feel safe taking time off or seeking help as needed.

    Here are some ways you can start to effectively address mental health in your organization, to shift from reactive to proactive and intentional.

    Provide Resources

    You’ve got a lot on your plate as an employer. Of course, you want your employees to work efficiently; however, it can be difficult to maintain productivity if one of your team members has something they are struggling with. That’s why providing support and resources for their mental health is so necessary. Consider hosting a health resource fair or letting employees know which resources are available and how to access them. Resources could include therapy, support groups, and de-stressing spaces in the office. Good mental health is good for the business, meaning increased productivity, less absenteeism, improved morale, and a happier workforce.

    Conduct Assessments

    Employers can conduct mental health assessments for employees. These assessments can help screen employees for symptoms of stress, anxiety, or depression – all of which are common mental illnesses that can negatively impact how well people work, perform, and make decisions. Employers can utilize two tools to create a mental health assessment: one requires employees to fill out a self-report survey. In contrast, another requires an employee’s manager or supervisor to fill out a self-report survey. When completed, employers review both surveys and compare them against each other. If they match up, both employee and manager agree with each other; if they don’t, employers may want to dig deeper into what causes conflict between employee and manager views. This is a great way to get to know what your employees are struggling with and what barriers are in place that aid with their stressors, helping the employee be seen, heard, and made addressed.

     Improve Policies

    You can help improve your employees’ mental health by revising policies that may be outdated and demotivating. If you want your company’s mental health policy and overall wellbeing initiatives to be effective, there are five key steps you can take: 1) review existing policies; 2) consult employee representatives; 3) identify gaps and strengths; 4) appoint a lead on behalf of senior management; 5) prioritize a plan of action based on assessment results.

    Host Events

    Businesses can host events that include educational workshops for employees around mental health awareness. Examples may include luncheons or workshops with expert speakers to promote mental health awareness who provide education and accessible resources. Employers can also designate certain times throughout the year to help fund employee outings designed to help address stressors and burn off steam after a long work week, month, or quarter. Consider scheduling team-building time to work on mental health together and giving employees Friday afternoons off to do something individually that improves their mental health.

    Promote Wellbeing

    Employers can implement programs that help employees manage stress, and support their overall physical and mental health. Employers can offer a wide range of programs, from wellness activities to employee training courses. Many employers offer programs like these because they are good for business; employees who feel supported tend to be more committed and engaged. Start a book club so your team can bond over a shared experience and focus some of their mental energy on things other than work. Start fun initiatives like volunteering in the community together, wearing green on Fridays, or planning lunch outings to get out of the office and into a new environment. We’ve seen even the best business ideas come out of a lunch gathering.

    Communicate Effectively

    Employers can set an example for employee wellness by making sure employees are communicating effectively. One way to do that is to improve your own communication skills and make mental health a part of everyday conversations. No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to develop these skills. Just as you would use eye contact when speaking with someone in person, show respect by fully looking at what they’re saying online—no side-scroll allowed! It’s a simple concept, but research shows it can make all the difference. If your team works remotely, communicating clearly through online channels is even more important!  Normalizing dialogue on mental health and well-being is essential in creating a safe and supportive work environment. People feel better when they know their employer cares about them as a person—and in turn, they care more about their work and want to give more of themselves during their working hours.

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