Very few folks will deny that the Covid-19 outbreak and resulting near global shut down has been taxing on mental health. From a professional perspective, the pandemic changed the way that we do business, the way we interact to our customers, the products we sell, and even where we sit. Adding to that, many companies struggled financially, leading to additional strains as workers worried about or experienced pay cuts, lay-offs, or sweeping changes to their job descriptions.
As we slowly emerge from the pandemic fog, companies now have a heightened awareness of the mental health needs of their employees. In this blog, we’ll examine what some companies are doing to take their offerings to the next level and help workers reap the most benefit from the available services.
Explore an EAP
As we’ve touched on in previous blog postings, employee assistance programs (EAPs) are wonderful, low-key ways to introduce your employees to mental health services. An EAP is a counseling and consultation service that connects your employees with qualified counselors who provide confidential support, practical guidance, and even referrals for additional mental health providers and resources. Areas of expertise for these programs typically include, but are certainly not limited to, coping with illness and injury, grief and loss, relationship concerns, drug and alcohol addiction, marriage and family troubles, and financial and legal stressors. However, employees can also turn to these programs for general support and tips on stress management stemming from any issue or concern. One of the greatest aspects of these programs is that these services are accessible through a single phone call — then it’s up to the provider to determine whether further follow-up will be required, be it additional conversations or referrals to in-person providers.
No matter how much you hype up your mental health program, surveys suggest that workers still don’t think that these types of visits are covered under their plans or aren’t sure how to access them even if they are included. To get your employees to better engage with these programs, consider offering a wellness challenge where employees can receive points for participating in various health-related activities, such as learning about the benefits of meditation, answering questions about good sleep practices, or even practicing yoga or participating in other destressing activities. The points can then be turned into prizes that further advocate wellness, such as a yoga studio membership, access to the online counseling portal Talk Space, or other relaxation activities.
Hook up HR
Probably the most valuable way that you can gain information about the mental wellness of your employees is to go ahead and ask questions. Now, of course, asking folks outright whether they’re feeling mentally balanced will probably end you on the receiving end of a lawsuit, but it is perfectly acceptable to poll your employees about their perceived access to mental health benefits, whether they have appropriate time to meet with providers, and whether they feel that the services that your company currently offers meets their unique needs. If employees seem consistently uninformed about their choices, or feel that your current benefits offerings are lacking, it might be time to either reassess your choices or reconsider how you are teaching your employees about their options