Workers will, undoubtedly, carry their emotional distress into the workplace. If left unattended, the consequences are significant: increased substance use, poor attention and concentration (leading to errors and safety concerns), reduced job performance, increased absenteeism, higher turnover, lower productivity, lower profitability, lower job growth, and increased costs for psychological and pharmacological treatments.
This situation may be further complicated by the return of remote workers to the office which is happening now in large numbers (read full article here). Despite this move to return workers to the office, Gallup recently published results of a poll that showed that over 60% of employees preferred fully remote work or a hybrid model and that fewer than 6% wanted to return full time to the office (read full article here). Workers who were interviewed about returning to the office said they felt “punished” and that the push to return to the workplace seemed arbitrary and unnecessary. This likely will create added tension in the workplace and may result in emotional exhaustion (read full article here).
As a leader responsible for workplace wellness, the burning question is this: What can you do to support emotional well-being of all your employees and ease the transition for both returning remote workers and those that have been “holding down the fort”?
Traditional advice about tending to the emotional needs of employees certainly applies. The workplace environment is the right place to promote good mental health, thanks to standing communication structures, centralized policies, existing social networks, access to workplace programs, opportunities to incentivize program participation, and the opportunity to track progress and measure effects of programs (read full story here). Suggestions to promote good mental health include:
- Acknowledge as an organization that the mental health of employees is a priority.
- Offer free screenings for mental health and assure access to programs that support good mental health when needed:
- Provide a robust, accessible employee assistance program.
- Host seminars and workshops that address depression, anxiety, and stress, focusing on mindfulness, stress reduction, etc.
- Provide free or subsidized lifestyle coaching, counseling or self-help programs.
- Be proactive by planning wellness opportunities to support the mental health of your employees. These might include anything from nature time to yoga classes to wellness challenges.
- Develop methods to keep mental health front and center in your workplace:
- Educational programs, posters and pamphlets about warning signs of emotional distress and available treatment options.
- Assure time for employees to take advantage of programs and supports during work time.
- Subsidize apps that address emotional well-being and offer on line therapy (there are many available for stress, depression and anxiety).