Employee Wellbeing and Mental Health

Both employers and employees agree that managing individual health is a high priority. For employers, having a healthy workforce can mean fewer missed days of work, increased productivity and employee engagement, and lower costs for health plans and workers compensation claims.

But employee wellbeing and health encompass more than just physical health. Employers have offered wellness programs for years that emphasize physical health. Now organizations are beginning to consider how to support employees in other areas that lead to improved wellbeing and mental health, like emotional, social, and financial.

Emotional

According to the World Health Organization, “mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

Employers can assist by talking about mental health with employees, creating opportunities for employees to de-stress, and striving for a safe and welcoming work environment.

Leaders who exhibit commitment to supporting mental health can help create a safe environment for employees to address the issue. Leading by example is key, as employees may adopt their leaders’ boundaries on work hours, minimizing or eliminating work on weekends, and taking days off and vacations uninterrupted by work.

Company communications can help remove the stigma of talking about mental health. Ensure your leaders and employees are well informed about the resources your company provides to assist with mental health. For example, many organizations provide an Employee Assistance Program. Let employees know how to connect with the EAPS’s resource, and the options it provides to access information and receive assistance.

Social

While we’re more electronically connected than ever before, many individuals also feel less personally connected. Organizations can help by bringing employees together to celebrate milestones and share achievements, providing a network where employees can ask questions and get help from fellow employees, and creating a culture of social acceptance of diversity so all opinions can be heard and valued.

Cultivating relationships between the organization and community can also add social value, for example, supporting employee volunteer activities either as individuals or as part of a group from the organization.

Financial

Employees are increasingly concerned about finances, both immediate and long term. While many employers offer financial planning for retirement needs, providing assistance with short term financial needs is equally important. Providing resources that assist with budgeting and debt reduction can help employees manage immediate needs.

Emotional factors may contribute to poor financial decision-making. Addressing those factors, like employees’ feelings of fear or embarrassment over their financial situation, can prompt employees to act to develop better financial habits.

Organizations can leverage both in person resources and technology to reach those with different preferences in their workforce. Frequent financial wellness information, starting at onboarding can also help employees get on the right track financially.

Employee well-being and health include emotional, social and financial health in addition to physical health.  Supporting employees in these other areas can result in an overall healthier and more engaged workforce.  In turn, that can help the organization reduce turnover, increase production, and create a better work experience.