Here’s the truth. You can’t ensure your employees’ mental well-being with one single initiative. It has to be a continuing and critical part of an organization’s values, employee experience, policies and benefits. It’s clear to today’s business leaders that an employee’s health and well-being influences productivity and profit, but with a mental health crisis looming, leaders also have a more significant opportunity to reshape the world. This Mental Health Day, let’s pledge to rebuild stagnant and indifferent work cultures into ones that care about people. To help you, here are five ways to ensure the mental well-being of your team:
Review the current state of your health programs
It is essential to see where your organization stands today before you think of any health and wellness measures. Undertake employee surveys and research the industry's best mental health benefits practices to get a pulse. Find out what your employees think about existing programs. There’s often a mismatch between what employees need and what employers think they need. Think about policies from the employee perspective and not just the leadership’s point of view. For example, your company may have a well-being strategy from the top regarding mental health, but it may not be practical for employees at all levels. It should be easy for employees to know how to access mental health resources without judgement. It would help if you also started tracking the right metrics to measure the program’s success.
Include mental health coverage in your health insurance plan
Comprehensive health insurance coverage kills a lot of uncertainty and anxiety about health and money issues. Unfortunately, for a long time, health insurance only covered physical health. The insurance regulator, IRDAI, asked health insurance providers to add mental illnesses to all regular health insurance policies. These policies usually cover in-patient hospitalization expenses for mental illness. High-quality group health insurance also stretches into preventive care and maintenance of good mental health. New age health insurance providers and startups include mental illness coverage by default, besides offering mental wellness sessions and related workshops so employees can learn about mental health challenges.
Promote work/life balance
Lead from the front and empower teams to manage their own time and focus on productivity rather than counting every single hour worked. Employees feel valued and safe in environments that foster trust. Encourage employees to take breaks in between work, and give them the freedom to take time off without judgement. The best way to address employee mental health is to understand how your work environment is impacting them – this includes unrealistic goals, workloads, schedules, absent leadership, and toxic culture. Encourage everyone to develop a fulfilling life beyond office responsibilities and spend time with loved ones. Build flexibility into your culture as much as possible.
Invest in training and resources
Any mental health program is only as good as the people equipped to implement it. So, it’s important to invest in the education and training of all managers and senior leaders. Managers should be able to identify any signs of distress and be empathetic to their team member’s well-being at all times. It may not always be possible to budget for high-quality training, especially at small businesses. If this is the case, work with your health insurance provider to access their mental health awareness and training resources. Many employee health insurance startups are helping other startups and small businesses access health benefits that were previously available only to corporations.
Reduce the stigma
The reason we are even discussing this is that there is still a stigma associated with mental health. This is a big obstacle for sure, but not something that modern business leaders can’t overcome. It can be as simple as communicating that you care. When the conversation starts at the leadership level and is backed by health policies, it trickles down to all levels and even spreads to communities beyond the workspace. So, be vocal about managing stress and taking care of mental health in meetings, emails and company-wide channels.
When you build a culture of caring for everyone’s mental health, employees will find it easy to approach you with their issues and be open to seeking treatment for it. Be clear that your programs are solely to support the mental health of your team. Create thoughtful spaces for employees to be open and build connections with others through shared wellness goals. If this is not feasible due to team size and budgets, look for wellness events organized for the benefit of small businesses and startups. This allows employees from smaller teams to be part of larger communities focused on health and wellness.