After an unprecedented year, the pandemic has taken a toll on employee wellbeing, driving burnout and amplifying the need to accelerate employer efforts to support mental health in the workplace.
According to Morneau Shepell’s Monthly Health Index, 36 per cent of Canadians were concerned about a fellow employee’s mental health this year, and with good reason. Since the start of the pandemic, burnout risk has more than tripled, and depression and anxiety levels are the highest they’ve ever been.
While many organizations were making headway in prioritizing employee wellbeing pre-pandemic, our new normal has called for new strategies and future-forward planning. To secure a mentally healthy workforce, employers will need to move beyond mental health as a talk-track and work to weave wellbeing into the DNA of their organizations. From where and how employees work, to rethinking leadership training and employee benefits; mental wellbeing will be at the forefront of the foreseeable future and a significant factor in determining employee engagement, attracting and retaining talent and overall business success.
Here are five strategies to help your organization prioritize mental wellbeing and support the future needs of your employees:
Foster ongoing dialogue: To remove the stigma around mental health, employers will need to create safe environments for ongoing conversations. Weaving wellbeing into everyday meetings versus one-off events will help normalize these conversations and encourage employees to share more freely. One-on-one wellbeing check-ins for managers with their team will also be key in creating regularity and fostering open dialogue.
Train your team: Recognizing the signs of struggle are challenging, but by building mental wellbeing training into your leadership coaching, managers will feel better equipped to facilitate conversation and identify red flags. Ensuring managers are well-versed in resources available will also better help them support their team.
Build wellbeing into your culture: As many businesses consider what a return to work will look like, now is the time to build better mental wellbeing practises into your new normal. This could be in the physical design of your space, factoring in things like quiet pods, meditation areas or green spaces, or this could be in the way you encourage your team to work, like scheduling no-meeting days, taking movement breaks throughout the day or having regular walk-and-talk style meetings.
Review your benefits: Reviewing and updating your employee benefits program will be vital in ensuring a healthy and productive return to work. From mental health days to meditation programs, offering flexible benefit plans that prioritize mental wellbeing as highly as physical wellbeing will ensure you’re set up for a success today and in the future.
Lead by example: To create real change, the tone must be set from the top. By encouraging your leadership team to prioritize their own mental wellbeing (use their vacation time, take a mental day off), employees will feel safe to do the same.
Looking for more inspiration on how to bring change to your organization? Throughout the month of May, in honour of Mental Health Week and the 2nd anniversary of Headway, we will be sharing how our valued partners are prioritizing mental wellbeing in their own workplaces in the hopes that it will help to inspire other leaders to do the same. We know that only through strong commitment and bold action can we see real change.