Making the Case for Focusing on Employee Mental Health | Harrison Newman | Corporate Synergies

4 Steps to Wrapping Your Head Around Employee Mental Health

Harrison Newman

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iPhones, laptops and tablets are workplace taskmasters. When it’s hard to unplug from technology (and work) employee mental health suffers.

Technology has transformed the way many of us work, but it’s also almost completely eliminated the ability to unplug, de-stress and take care of employee mental health.

Many employees make themselves available 24/7, checking email before they go to sleep and as soon as they wake up. This “always on” mentality is costing everyone: businesses spend $300 billion each year on absenteeism, diminished productivity, employee turnover and insurance fees due to workplace stress.1

Even family vacations now feature new guests: laptops, tablets and smartphones. But working more comes with a price—our mental wellbeing. Up to 14% of employee mental health issues could be completely avoided by reducing workplace stress.2

Stress and mental health are increasingly important issues in the office and outside work. Now, more than ever, employers need to make sure their employees have the right resources to solve for depression, anxiety, stress and job strain.


Traditionally, employers focused on insurance to cover physical health; employee mental health often fell by the wayside.

As healthcare costs began to rise, employers responded with health & wellness programs that focused on physical wellbeing. Now, they’re focusing on mental health. Employee mental health issues can lead to mistakes, lower productivity, lower employee morale, higher rates of absenteeism and even physical illnesses such as high blood pressure and heart disease. In response, employers leveraging ways to improve employee mental health.

Here’s what you can do in your organization:

Remove the stigma1. Remove the stigma.

Improving employee mental health starts with talking about it. Dispelling myths about mental health can help improve the perception of mental wellness. Focus on mental health as part of a wider health & wellness program by calling attention to the need to relieve stress and seek help for mental health problems.

Workplace training can help employees and managers recognize the signs of stress and poor mental health and bring attention to the issue.

Provide and promote stress-relief activities.2. Provide and promote stress-relief activities.

Employers can build in activities to relieve stress during the work day. Yoga, exercise classes and walking groups can help employees cash in on feel-good endorphins that come from physical activity. So can teaching employees how to meditate or take a break during the day.

Some larger companies take stress relief to the next level. Office fitness centers, weight rooms and boxing gyms provide stress relief. Some companies even employ an in-office psychologist (think Wendy Rhodes on HBO’s Billions) to teach employees how to manage their stress and fears.

On a more basic level, creating a flexible work policy throughout the day can also help. Everyone needs to take care of personal business from time to time, whether it’s a doctor’s appointment or a home maintenance issue. Take advantage of technology and allow your employees to work from home or change their hours. Both can help reduce stress.

Develop a financial health & wellness program.3. Develop a financial health & wellness program.

Financial fears are likely stressing out your employees. More than half of workers say they are stressed about money, and the younger the worker, the more likely he or she is worried about finances.3 Create a financial health & wellness program to educate employees how to manage their money. Removing this stress will help them be more “present” and focused at work. A program could include helping younger workers balance paying back student debt with budgeting and saving, while older generations may focus on putting their kids through college while saving for retirement. Other financial health & wellness topics may include making big purchases, such as a home or a car.

Highlight your Employee Assistance Program (EAP)4. Highlight your Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Draw attention to existing benefits and resources to help employees and their dependents cope with mental health issues. You very likely offer an EAP, but are you employees aware of it? Generally, an EAP includes telephone-based or in-person counseling, referrals and other resources to assess and treat employee mental health issues. Communicate the details of your EAP often (not just during open enrollment) to give employees another way to improve their wellbeing.

Your employees are your greatest asset; ensuring they are healthy is in your best interest. Facing mental health head-on can help keep your employees stress-free and healthy, and help you boost your business.

1 Inc., “Work-Related Stress Is a $300 Billion Problem. Here’s What Your Company Can Do to Stop It”
2 Medical News Today, “How job strain may impair mental health”
3 HR Today, “Is 2017 the Year of Employee Financial Wellness Programs?”


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