5 Ways Employers Can Support Employees’ Mental Health

5 Ways Employers Can Support Employees’ Mental Health

An employee’s mental health includes how they think, feel and act, and includes their emotional and social well-being. While mental health includes mental illness, the two aren’t interchangeable. An employee can go through a period of poor mental health but not necessarily have a clear, diagnosable mental illness. Additionally, an employee’s mental health can change over time, depending on factors such as their workload, stress and work-life balance.

While 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness annually, a recent study by Deloitte revealed that less than half receive treatment. A study from the Mental Health in the Workplace Summit also found that mental illness is the leading cause of disability for U.S. adults aged 15 to 44 and that more workdays are lost to mental health-related absenteeism than any other injury or illness.

Given its prevalence, you can expect that employees at your organization are experiencing mental health challenges or mental illness. That’s why it’s so important that your organization creates a culture that is supports employees’ mental health. While this may sound complicated, creating a workplace that is supportive of mental health and illness is easier than it seems. Here are five simple ways that your company can support employees and their mental health.

Promote Mental Health Awareness in the Office

The first step to creating a workplace that is supportive of employees’ mental health is promoting awareness and destigmatizing mental health or illness. Provide resources to help employees learn more about mental health or mental illnesses, and give information about how employees who may be struggling can seek out help. When you openly talk about mental health, employees are more likely to feel comfortable about the concept and reach out to managers or co-workers if they’re struggling.

You can also establish a workplace environment that is supportive of mental health by:

  • Encouraging social support among employees, such as an organized support group that meets regularly
  • Setting up an anonymous portal through which employees can reach out to let managers know that they’re struggling with high stress and need help
  • Providing training on problem solving, effective communication and conflict resolution
  • Promoting your employee assistance program (EAP), if you offer one

Offer Flexible Scheduling

Work-life balance, or a lack thereof, can affect an employee’s mental health. To help employees better balance their work and personal lives, employers across the country are embracing workplace flexibility. While this looks different at every company, workplace flexibility can include flextime, telecommuting and unlimited paid time off (PTO) policies. Flexible schedules provide employees with

job satisfaction, better health, increased work-life balance and less stress.

Address Workplace Stress

Nearly 80% of Americans consider their jobs stressful. Chronic workplace stress can contribute to increased employee fatigue, irritability and health problems. Additionally, workplace stress costs U.S. employers approximately $300 billion in lost productivity annually.

While it may not be possible to eliminate job stress altogether for your employees, you can help them learn how to manage it effectively. Common job stressors include a heavy workload, intense pressure to perform at high levels, job insecurity, long work hours, excessive travel, office politics and conflicts with co-workers.

You can implement various activities to help reduce employee stress, which can improve health and morale—and productivity.

  • Make sure that workloads are appropriate.
  • Have managers meet regularly with employees to facilitate communication.
  • Address negative and illegal actions in the workplace immediately—do not tolerate bullying, discrimination or any other similar behaviors.
  • Recognize and celebrate employees’ successes. This contributes to morale and decreases stress levels.

Evaluate Your Benefits Offerings

Review the benefits you offer to ensure that they support mental well-being, too. Evaluate your current health plan designs. Do they cover mental health services? Reviewing the offerings that your organization provides is essential to creating a culture that supports employee mental health.

In similar fashion, look to see what voluntary benefits you can offer to support mental well-being. Consider offering simple perks like financial planning assistance (as financial stress often contributes to poor mental health), employee discount programs (where employees can receive gym memberships, stress-reducing massages or acupuncture at a lower cost) and EAPs to support your employees.

Provide Mental Health Training for Managers

One of the most significant problems hindering mental health support at work is the stigma that surrounds mental health. Despite the recent moves in society toward destigmatizing mental health, issues still persist. To ensure that no stigma surrounding mental health exists at your organization, it’s important that you properly train management in recognizing the signs of mental illness, excessive workplace stress, workplace bullying and fatigue. Moreover, managers should be trained to handle potentially difficult conversations with employees surrounding their mental health. Ultimately, they should be prepared to speak openly about mental health rather than avoid the topic. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Workforce webpage to learn more.

10 Workplace Safety Considerations for Small Business Owners

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Content utilized to create this post was from Forbes Magazine’s Human Resources Council (includes Megan Leasher, Nicole Smartt Serres, Sameer Penakalapati, Tracy Cote, Chris Stanzione, Subhashree Chaudhuri, Courtney Peterson, Tina R. Walker, Kristin Fowler & Madhukar. Govindaraju)

The vaccines have arrived and the numbers are trending up, down and all around depending on what network your watching and who you are speaking with. The fact is small, midsize and enterprise level businesses are considering what approach they should take for getting their staff back to work in an office environment. The majority of small and mid-sized employers are looking at using a blended approach, meaning they plan on implementing more work from home flexibility with their existing in office staff. 59% of those that are working from home support a work schedule that allows working from the office and at home. We wanted to provide 10 impactful considerations for employers as they forge forward.

TEN WAYS TO CREATE A SAFE WORK ENVIRONMENT


  1. There is no one-size-fits-all approach

Have a plan that fits your cultural goals and direction. Your plan should be a blend of meeting all safety & risk management guidelines from a legal perspective along with proper consideration for what the organization and its people need.

2. Communication is not a one way street

Involve trusted staff to carry the message of your risk & safety policies. Encourage employee participation in the development process. When your employees feel that their input is valued your office will be engaged in carrying your message. Design the process to be sustainable at all levels of your organization.

3. Proper work-life balance impacts mental health

Employees may be asked to get used to another new normal. Whether that means coming back into the office on a more regular basis or permanently, try and remember that by and large employee mental wellness suffered throughout the pandemic. As you take steps to protect the safety and health of your workforce, do not overlook mental health and wellness. Everybody has unique circumstances that may adversely impact their mental well being so little adjustments like extending flexible work hours can go a long way to employee satisfaction.

4. Play by the same set of rules – that means everybody

It is easy to become disregardful of even the most sensible of guidelines that have been established for the greater good of the group. Implementing common-sense guidelines supported by your state or OSHA need to be followed by everybody. Consistency is the key for resonating the message. Send out reminders as often as necessary and echo your message firmly. Somebody who refuses to abide by clearly defined rules may need to be sent home. Be relentless about making sure everybody is playing by the same set up rules.

5. Be mindful of each other’s responsibilities

Small to mid-sized businesses need to be aware of the risk and safety management responsibilities and the varying degrees the employer and the employee are responsible for. When it comes to providing a safe working environment, provide safety options, consider alternative ways of doing a job safely, and engage employees in a mutually agreeable way. Remaining open-minded and reserving judgement is crucial as well.


6. Tap into available consultative and training resources

Shameless self-promotion is coming in five, four, three, two and one; do you have access to safety and health resources through an agency, consultant or expert… such as a Libertate Insurance for example? Inquire about the available voluminous resources that your reliable partners posses when it comes to evolving environments, laws and compliance requirements! Leverage your partnerships especially those involved in your firm’s best interest and you will be amazed at what “we”, I mean they will be able to help you with.

7. Put safety policies front and center

Do you remind employees about the ongoing safety and mask campaign? Chances are safety policies are not necessarily the primary thought running through your employees minds while racing from desk to printer and back. Your firm’s culture needs to foster regular engagement to the point it becomes second nature. Emotional intelligence goes a long way in the delivery of your message. Remind employees of the care and concern leadership has for their well being, it will be appreciated.

8. Make health and safety part of your organization’s culture

It is all of our responsibility to protect each other and minimize risks. When you see something, say something. Avoid expecting somebody else to see and say something. Every member of the organization can play an active role and should.

9. Do they understand your expectations

If you create a health and safety culture with team members that own the message and every member of the organization is singing the same safety tune, you have won the expectation battle. Do not allow the loose ends or the uninformed be the squeaky wheel. Be consistent, be vigilant and be clear about what is expected.

10. Get creative about getting input from office and field staff

Companies have implemented daily check-ins, reporting processes and employee task forces to encourage information about risk and safety to flow in daily. Create a safety game, make sure managers are listening, remember one voice and one message. Make safety and risk management happen.

Managing COVID-19 Employment Practice-Related Exposure

We found this article, made available by Insurance Journal, most informative. The original content can be accessed by clicking here.

This post is part of a series sponsored by The Hanover Insurance Group.

As the pandemic continues, we’re seeing new COVID-19-related regulations, restrictions and advisories issued and adjusted by federal, state, and local officials on a regular basis. Each jurisdiction can create and enforce its own laws, leaving many employers faced with varying—and at times conflicting—orders and guidance. This creates a decision point for employers. Which should they follow? And, how can that decision impact their business?

From decisions about workplace safety, such as personal protective equipment, visitor policies and vaccine requirements, to handling work-from-home, family, and medical leave requests, there are a lot of business issues to sort through and a great deal of exposure, which could leave them open to the threat of an employment-related lawsuit. As trusted advisers to these businesses, independent agents can help guide their clients through the maze of regulations and guidance, sharing thoughtful risk management practices and key coverages to evaluate.

Growing threat of litigation

More than 2,000 COVID-related employment lawsuits have been filed already, and the number is expected to grow as businesses respond to ever-evolving circumstances. Business leaders can prepare by educating themselves and seeking out resources and guidance to navigate health, safety, and economic issues. Whether it’s subsequent waves, a change of jurisdictional guidance and/or regulations, or the availability of a vaccine, forward -thinking leaders will be well prepared to understand the options and their impact and make informed, proactive decisions.

With the pandemic, employers should be especially mindful of the following types of employment practice claims:

  • Workplace safety: Allegations of failure to provide a safe working environment
  • Discrimination: Allegations of age and disability bias in employment termination
  • Wage and hour: Allegations of failure to pay non-exempt employees for remote work or time spent completing employer-mandated COVID-19-realted health and safety activities, such as daily screenings
  • Retaliation: Allegations of retribution for complaints about workplace safety or use of medical leave

Thoughtful risk management

With questions like ‘can employees be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine?’, ‘how do we manage continued work-from-home requests?’, ‘what accommodations should be made for employees with disabilities?’, and ‘how do we address employees’ workplace safety concerns?’, it can be difficult for businesses to know where to start. Independent agents can play an important role in helping their clients think critically about their risks and take proactive steps. Similarly, top insurance carriers understand this, and have acted to provide employers with guidance and services that can help them minimize the risk of litigation.

For example, The Hanover has negotiated agreements with leading labor and employment practices firms to offer a range of services to Hanover policyholders that can help reduce the risk of employment practice lawsuits related to COVID-19. These value-added services are offered to policyholders no cost, or at a significant discount, such as:

Holistic insurance solution

  • COVID-19 return-to-work guide, including a robust testing and screening guide, sample policy language and detailed guidance on workplace safety, disability accommodations, and more
  • Family First Coronavirus Response Act compliance assistance, including sample policies, template forms, a flowchart for managing requests and attorney consultation
  • COVID-19 online training module for employees on personal hygiene practices and more
  • A COVID-19 customer information center with key information from the CDC, EEOPC, and state-specific resources

Beyond risk management, agents can help their clients by partnering with insurance carriers that offer employment practices liability insurance that can be tailored to the needs of each business.

As businesses wonder if they have adequate insurance protection, agents can help them understand their coverage and identify possible risk areas by considering these three important factors:

  1. Definitions: As agents know, not all definitions are created equal. Carefully assess definitions of wrongful acts to ensure a business’s unique risks are covered.
  2. Who to cover: Ensure coverage applies to the acts of all individuals who work at the organization. For example, does the business use contractors?
  3. Key coverage provisions: These should include punitive damages where insurable, and coverage for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or state equivalent proceedings.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, employers face increasing risks from employment-related lawsuits. Fortunately, agents can play an important role in guiding their business clients to risk management practices and coverages that help best protect their operations, their interests, and their employees.

COVID-19 Vaccine Workplace Planning

Employers can play a key role in COVID-19 vaccine distribution and should prepare for when vaccine access reaches the general public. Educating employees on ways to avoid COVID-19 vaccine scams and helping to build confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine are important elements to a successful plan.

While vaccination details are getting worked out, here are three ways to avoid COVID-19 vaccine scams:

1.) You can’t pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine. That’s a scam.
2.) You can’t pay to get early access to the vaccine. That’s a scam.
3.) Nobody legit will call about the vaccine and ask for your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number. That’s a scam.

Ignore any vaccine offers that ask for personal or financial information.
Learn more at ftc.gov/coronavirus/scams consumerresources.org/beware-coronavirus-scams

Building confidence in COVID-19 vaccines is equally important to getting us back to enjoying safe and productive workplaces. Here are a few things any organization can do to help build employee confidence in the vaccine.

¡      Start at the top; encourage leaders and managers within your organization to champion the vaccine.

¡      Talk about it. Provide an environment where employees can ask questions and discuss concerns openly in a constructive manner.

¡      Provide information about safety, side effects, benefits, development and herd immunity through multiple channels which are both trusted and familiar to employees.

¡      Celebrate the act of receiving the vaccine. Make employees feel proud about getting vaccinated and doing their part.

Click below to download a thoughtful COVID-19 Vaccine Workplace Planning Checklist developed by Zywave.

Employees getting vaccinated across all sectors of industry and business can be a driving force for a safe return to work for all Americans.