I recently read an article that stated “leaders have a responsibility not only to invest in and promote well-being, but also to commit to it by designing well-being into work and making well-being a consideration as important as any other factor that affects the bottom line.” (Deloitte, Diving Deeper: Five Workforce Trends to Watch in 2021, December, 2020) Those of you who have read my blogs and are familiar with my firm Glumac Consulting Group know that I am passionate about mental health and emotional well-being. So when I read this article, I felt I needed to echo some of its content.
Since the pandemic hit (has it been a year already, wow!), executives, managers, supervisors and business owners have had to really pivot, not only in regard to day-to-day operations but with ensuring the safety of employees from a killer virus. The focus for most companies shifted to strict methods of sanitization and new policies and procedures for workplace safety, to say the least. But now that businesses have their ducks in a row where the physical virus is concerned, what about the emotional ramifications on employees? Are the leaders paying attention to those? Do they even know how to discern if an employee is struggling?
Keep in mind these important facts:
- There is a link between mental health distress and increased safety risks – experiencing mental health distress can adversely affect risk recognition and actions of workers both off and on the job.
- Mental health distress and mental illness have an impact on employers and their bottom lines directly through increased absenteeism, negative impact on productivity and profits and an increase in health care costs related to mental health and illness.
If you are in a leadership position, responsible for either 1 employee or 100 employees, here is what I suggest:
- Check in regularly with your staff and I mean, really check in. Don’t be superficial, ask meaningful questions about how they are faring.
- Show you care through your actions and your words. If you are able to treat your employees to breakfast (even a box of donuts works wonders!) or able to give them an extra hour for lunch then do it. If you can’t find other creative ways to show you care, Google has terrific ideas.
- Create a culture of psychological safety. Many employees are afraid to share that they are struggling for fear they will lose their jobs and even the respect of their supervisors and colleagues. Help to stamp out the stigma by creating a safe place for your employees to share their experiences.
- Understand and accommodate the need for flexible scheduling, when possible.
- Foster well-being in relationships among colleagues. Encourage bonding and working together. Make meetings fun – add some humor or some activities to the mundane to bring energy levels up.
- Organize a wellness program for employees. There are many options to choose from. If you need help with that, just let me know.
- Allow employees to create a physical workspace facilitates well-being. If employees are working in the office, allow them to decorate and add features that bring them comfort or joy.
- This next suggestion I cannot stress enough – get trained (and have your employees get trained) in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)! You’d want to know how to apply first aid in an injury situation, right? This is just as important! MHFA is a course that teaches you how to help someone who may be experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge. The training helps you identify, understand and respond to signs of addictions and mental illnesses. And guess what? You’re in luck as I am a certified MHFA instructor!
Whether you take the MHFA training or not, I hope at the very least you will be aware of the emotional health of your employees. Show them you value their well-being; really express to them how important they are to you. After all, your employees are your biggest asset.
Alexandra Glumac is the founder of Glumac Consulting Group whose purpose is to strategically support your business’s mission, vision and bottom line through the coordination and facilitation of customized, quality and seamless HR services.