How to tackle employee mental health to build a resilient workforce

mental health

Every October, we celebrate World Mental Health Day to raise awareness of mental health issues worldwide and mobilise efforts in support of mental health. Over the past 18 months, understanding mental health and wellbeing has progressed significantly- not just in the media or in our social spheres but also the workplace.

This increased focus on mental health and wellbeing has signalled a vital realisation that employee health is critical for enabling business continuity and resilience. Many businesses are making great strides in putting workforce wellbeing at its core.

In the wake of the latest World Mental Health Day, it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect on how organisations have supported their workforce since the onset of the pandemic and how these strategies should evolve as the pandemic continues into its third year.

Moving towards an endemic COVID-19

As Singapore moves towards an endemic COVID-19, we see gradual changes in our daily lives. International borders are reopening, large-scale events are resuming, and we are slowly returning to the office with greater frequency.

As we prepare to live safely with a virus here for the long haul, the authorities have adopted a reactive strategy that involves constant adaptation and implementation of restrictions and measures for social and business purposes.

This transition will require a significant paradigm shift in how organisations view and manage workforce health and wellbeing.

A proactive approach to building resilience, wherein businesses can anticipate and react to future events swiftly and decisively, will better equip them with ways to tackle the next wave of health concerns- be it a real issue like influenza or a silent one like mental health.

According to International SOS’ Risk Outlook 2021, one in three business risk professionals predicted mental health as a primary productivity disruptor this year. Left unmanaged for 2022, this could have serious financial and business continuity repercussions.

Also Read: Why Khailee Ng puts mental healthcare support as key to successful founders-investors relationship

Most pressing amidst the changes in restrictions is the recognition that these ever-evolving restrictions can take a toll on employees’ mental wellbeing. Weathering through these changes will require agility and flexibility- but how can businesses offer this to employees, whether they are working on-site, remotely, or in a hybrid arrangement?

Education is important in helping employees understand that an endemic COVID-19 is not a step backwards from the past 18 months of trying to eradicate the virus with it.

Backed up with clear and open communication about the business direction, goals, and concerns will help allay fears, provide clear guidance, and instil confidence and trust in the organisation’s response towards future crises.

Acclimatising to business as usual

Looking ahead, a state of endemicity will enable us to resume business travel, on-site operations, and even attend or organise large-scale work events and conferences.

While these might be exciting for parts of the workforce, we must also keep in mind that other segments of the workforce might approach this with greater trepidation.

While it might be instinctive to view re-entry anxieties and fears as personal struggles, they can also impact productivity and trust in the organisation.

Business leaders have a critical role in supporting employees emotionally through these concerns and fears and taking steps to build a healthier and more resilient workforce. In working with clients on such issues, we have identified three crucial steps towards fostering an environment that prioritises mental wellbeing.

Begin with knowing your people, understanding where they are at, and how they can be supported. To provide organisations with insights into their workforce wellbeing, we have developed Emotional Health or Resilience surveys with tools that have been scientifically validated and can uncover individual concerns.

With these findings, organisations can understand how the workforce is coping with the ongoing situation and curate a tailored programme to address specific issues.

Once you are aware of how your workforce is faring, you can assess your workforce risk levels. The information from the surveys can help HR teams and managers identify employees who are more emotionally vulnerable and hence require more attention and assistance.

With that knowledge, they can create a safe space for all so that employees know they have a good support structure to lean on and can share openly about their emotional health challenges without fear of discrimination.

Also Read: Leaders, it’s time to talk about mental health

Businesses should not underestimate the power of emotional support services such as remote confidential counselling and telehealth assistance by a team of health experts. Above being able to provide clinically-proven support for affected employees, these third-party services offer employees easy access and greater security that their issues will be handled with discretion and professionalism.

These channels should be communicated widely and consistently. By implementing multiple, varied channels of support, employees can be assured that they can seek assistance and support so that they are comfortable.

Preparing for future crises

Raising awareness for mental health issues frequently will help to combat stigma and cultivate a workplace culture that is resilient no matter what comes. This can come in the form of conveying the types of support available and sharing resources on ways to deal with stress, manage workloads, and keep an excellent work-life balance.

With this positive workplace culture, the organisation also demonstrates its openness to support and actively encourage actions that promote mental and emotional wellbeing.

Different teams, including crisis management, HR, and business continuity, should work together to adopt a more holistic approach towards workforce wellbeing, ensuring consistency and sustainability.

While these teams have previously operated in silos, the pandemic has brought an added dimension of employee wellbeing into crisis management. Teams that can work together to address twin operational and employee well-being issues have tremendous success at crisis management.

Whether the next crisis is of a medical, political, or environmental nature, organisations with employee health and wellbeing embedded in their culture, combined with robust approaches towards crisis management, will be in the best position for recovery.

Also Read: Moving mental health out of Freud’s era and beyond the couch with big data

We are now at a pivotal moment in our battle against Covid-19 – and the steps businesses take to address employee health and wellbeing will have long-term implications on business resilience, continuity and sustainability.

Building an environment that places mental health as a core pillar of business resilience will foster a workforce that can weather challenges, bond closer and develop loyalty. With the adequate support and resources to build their mental resilience, employees, in turn, will make a healthy and robust organisation that’s poised for success.

Editor’s note: e27 aims to foster thought leadership by publishing views from the community. Share your opinion by submitting an article, video, podcast, or infographic

Join our e27 Telegram group, FB community, or like the e27 Facebook page

Image credit: archnoi1

The post How to tackle employee mental health to build a resilient workforce appeared first on e27.

,
mental health

Every October, we celebrate World Mental Health Day to raise awareness of mental health issues worldwide and mobilise efforts in support of mental health. Over the past 18 months, understanding mental health and wellbeing has progressed significantly- not just in the media or in our social spheres but also the workplace.

This increased focus on mental health and wellbeing has signalled a vital realisation that employee health is critical for enabling business continuity and resilience. Many businesses are making great strides in putting workforce wellbeing at its core.

In the wake of the latest World Mental Health Day, it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect on how organisations have supported their workforce since the onset of the pandemic and how these strategies should evolve as the pandemic continues into its third year.

Moving towards an endemic COVID-19

As Singapore moves towards an endemic COVID-19, we see gradual changes in our daily lives. International borders are reopening, large-scale events are resuming, and we are slowly returning to the office with greater frequency.

As we prepare to live safely with a virus here for the long haul, the authorities have adopted a reactive strategy that involves constant adaptation and implementation of restrictions and measures for social and business purposes.

This transition will require a significant paradigm shift in how organisations view and manage workforce health and wellbeing.

A proactive approach to building resilience, wherein businesses can anticipate and react to future events swiftly and decisively, will better equip them with ways to tackle the next wave of health concerns- be it a real issue like influenza or a silent one like mental health.

According to International SOS’ Risk Outlook 2021, one in three business risk professionals predicted mental health as a primary productivity disruptor this year. Left unmanaged for 2022, this could have serious financial and business continuity repercussions.

Also Read: Why Khailee Ng puts mental healthcare support as key to successful founders-investors relationship

Most pressing amidst the changes in restrictions is the recognition that these ever-evolving restrictions can take a toll on employees’ mental wellbeing. Weathering through these changes will require agility and flexibility- but how can businesses offer this to employees, whether they are working on-site, remotely, or in a hybrid arrangement?

Education is important in helping employees understand that an endemic COVID-19 is not a step backwards from the past 18 months of trying to eradicate the virus with it.

Backed up with clear and open communication about the business direction, goals, and concerns will help allay fears, provide clear guidance, and instil confidence and trust in the organisation’s response towards future crises.

Acclimatising to business as usual

Looking ahead, a state of endemicity will enable us to resume business travel, on-site operations, and even attend or organise large-scale work events and conferences.

While these might be exciting for parts of the workforce, we must also keep in mind that other segments of the workforce might approach this with greater trepidation.

While it might be instinctive to view re-entry anxieties and fears as personal struggles, they can also impact productivity and trust in the organisation.

Business leaders have a critical role in supporting employees emotionally through these concerns and fears and taking steps to build a healthier and more resilient workforce. In working with clients on such issues, we have identified three crucial steps towards fostering an environment that prioritises mental wellbeing.

Begin with knowing your people, understanding where they are at, and how they can be supported. To provide organisations with insights into their workforce wellbeing, we have developed Emotional Health or Resilience surveys with tools that have been scientifically validated and can uncover individual concerns.

With these findings, organisations can understand how the workforce is coping with the ongoing situation and curate a tailored programme to address specific issues.

Once you are aware of how your workforce is faring, you can assess your workforce risk levels. The information from the surveys can help HR teams and managers identify employees who are more emotionally vulnerable and hence require more attention and assistance.

With that knowledge, they can create a safe space for all so that employees know they have a good support structure to lean on and can share openly about their emotional health challenges without fear of discrimination.

Also Read: Leaders, it’s time to talk about mental health

Businesses should not underestimate the power of emotional support services such as remote confidential counselling and telehealth assistance by a team of health experts. Above being able to provide clinically-proven support for affected employees, these third-party services offer employees easy access and greater security that their issues will be handled with discretion and professionalism.

These channels should be communicated widely and consistently. By implementing multiple, varied channels of support, employees can be assured that they can seek assistance and support so that they are comfortable.

Preparing for future crises

Raising awareness for mental health issues frequently will help to combat stigma and cultivate a workplace culture that is resilient no matter what comes. This can come in the form of conveying the types of support available and sharing resources on ways to deal with stress, manage workloads, and keep an excellent work-life balance.

With this positive workplace culture, the organisation also demonstrates its openness to support and actively encourage actions that promote mental and emotional wellbeing.

Different teams, including crisis management, HR, and business continuity, should work together to adopt a more holistic approach towards workforce wellbeing, ensuring consistency and sustainability.

While these teams have previously operated in silos, the pandemic has brought an added dimension of employee wellbeing into crisis management. Teams that can work together to address twin operational and employee well-being issues have tremendous success at crisis management.

Whether the next crisis is of a medical, political, or environmental nature, organisations with employee health and wellbeing embedded in their culture, combined with robust approaches towards crisis management, will be in the best position for recovery.

Also Read: Moving mental health out of Freud’s era and beyond the couch with big data

We are now at a pivotal moment in our battle against Covid-19 – and the steps businesses take to address employee health and wellbeing will have long-term implications on business resilience, continuity and sustainability.

Building an environment that places mental health as a core pillar of business resilience will foster a workforce that can weather challenges, bond closer and develop loyalty. With the adequate support and resources to build their mental resilience, employees, in turn, will make a healthy and robust organisation that’s poised for success.

Editor’s note: e27 aims to foster thought leadership by publishing views from the community. Share your opinion by submitting an article, video, podcast, or infographic

Join our e27 Telegram group, FB community, or like the e27 Facebook page

Image credit: archnoi1

The post How to tackle employee mental health to build a resilient workforce appeared first on e27.

Leave a Reply