Mental health is so much more than corporate jargon. It is an area that deserves the attention of Human Resources teams in every industry as businesses look ahead at ways to make it through new challenges.
As HR professionals focus on growth opportunities in 2022, maintaining honesty and transparency is more important than ever. During these uncertain times, employees are likely looking for stability and security in their workplace culture.
Thus, it is important to look at how workers feel at all levels of the organization. For example, does a new policy relating to the coronavirus invoke feelings of safety or instead spark fear?
Rather than turning a blind eye to these emotions, HR leaders bear the responsibility to acknowledge them and put in place processes to help employees for a more positive workplace experience. This involves more than simply sharing a phone number for a mental health hotline.
While performance and training are still important topics for HR departments to address, so too is mental health. Organizations may want to consider appointing a mental health leader who manages relevant workplace programs, monitors the wellbeing of workers, and more.
Unfortunately, mental health has an attached stigma. Thus, Human Resources professionals must educate themselves and employees about the truths and falsehoods to increase awareness. The goal is to encourage people to ask for help without feeling shame or judgement.
Issues with cognitive, emotional, and behavioral wellbeing might be more common than many organizations realize. Depression and anxiety are two examples of mental illnesses, and they are as valid as a physical disease. Just as cancer requires treatment, so too does a mood disorder.
Along with educating themselves and fellow employees, as earlier explained, HR departments also can create a culture where everyone feels they can voice their opinions. This priority needs to come from the highest level of the organization so that workers see that executives and managers are role models.
Also important is for HR professionals to be empathetic to those who approach them regarding mental health issues. Being an ear to listen is a great start, even if the HR leader has not had any personal experience with mental illness.
Beyond that, try to find solutions in what they discuss, while understanding you may not be able solve everyone’s problems. HR leaders have a unique role by having the opportunity to direct employees to the next steps and provide a supportive environment.
Furthermore, putting policies in place that combat stress is likely something for organizations to discuss doing in 2022.The policy might include a day of paid time off in certain situations, for example, to support employees.
Your organization may also initiate employee assistance programs that focus on other areas. Some examples are grief and loss, harassment, finances, and personal difficulties.
Setting up mental health seminars is another initiative to consider. It may also be a good idea to proactively reach out to employees with self-care ideas, a mindfulness workshop, and more.
Perhaps the best thing that HR leaders can do is show that it is okay to talk about mental health needs in the workplace. Providing a safe environment to do so is paramount. Doing so can help build a more robust team and ultimately a better organization.