Just like 2020, 2021 came with its own set of challenges — both in the workplace and at home — and the rise of the remote office continues to blur the lines of the work-life balance for many employees.
With 2022 right around the corner, it’s imperative that employers develop company-wide approaches for acknowledging and offering solutions to employees’ ongoing mental health challenges in the new year. We know that, when equipped with the right resources, employers hold the tools to change the culture and conversation around mental health awareness and advocacy for employees.
For this reason — and to keep with the spirit of the season — we’re offering this list of five resolutions for employers to implement to help employees through mental health challenges in the new year.
- Train supervisors to be empathetic listeners
If employees don’t think their employers are really hearing them, or if they’re not receiving compassionate responses, they won’t feel comfortable speaking up when they’re struggling at work or in their personal lives. Training supervisors to listen and lead from a place of empathy will encourage a culture of transparency about mental health in the workplace, and ultimately strengthen relationships between employees, supervisors and employers.
Empathic listening involves responding in ways that are specific to each employee’s unique challenges — not just telling them what you think they want to hear, or what’s most convenient for you or the company. Asking employees what support they need to feel better, both inside and outside of the workplace, is an effective way to let them know you are truly listening and care about what’s best for them.
- Foster regular communication about mental well-being
Holding regular meetings and conversations with employees about mental well-being is one of the first steps in breaking down the stigma around mental health issues. Normalizing those conversations not only helps employers stay informed about what employees are feeling and dealing with, but it also conveys to employees that their workplace can be a safe place to talk about hard things.
Some ways that companies can destigmatize mental health struggles and encourage regular conversations with employees include sharing anti-stigma campaigns via email, the company intranet and regular team meetings. Companies can publicly support efforts like the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s StigmaFree campaign, which is aimed at removing the social and systemic barriers that impact those living with mental health conditions.
- Gather employee input about what the company should focus on related to mental well-being
Rather than only looking to outside resources for ways to improve mental health and wellness among employees, employers should tap into the most valuable and informative resource they have — their employees. Even when they’re struggling, employees can often provide helpful, concrete feedback about what they need to feel more comfortable and happier at work. Gathering this input will help employers develop better communication and leadership approaches with their team going forward, as well as identify the proper external resources for assistance.
- Establish a self-assessment process to help employees connect to the right resources
Setting up a self-assessment framework is an effective way to connect employees to resources based on their individual needs and concerns. While employers must be vigilant in looking out for signs of stress, depression, anxiety and other struggles among their employees, the onus isn’t entirely on them. Self-assessment processes ensure that employees have agency over their own mental wellness and the services they receive from their employers. Online self-assessment tools can be used to help identify symptoms of common mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, or measure mental health risk based on work-life balance, alcohol use and other lifestyle factors.
- Offer broader mental health and wellness benefit packages
In the wake of the pandemic and all the challenges it presented for individuals and families, and for employees and their work routines, many companies looked at increasing the therapy services they offer, based on employee concerns and utilization of services. MyAdvisor provides services that support existing employee assistance programs (EAP) and benefits, regardless of company size. The MyAdvisor solution involves providing care coordination and case management technology services, such as telephonic counseling and virtual appoint scheduling, for companies looking to provide tele-mental health solutions to their employees.
The bottom line is employers have a responsibility to look out for their employees and honor their individual mental health and wellness needs in the workplace. You can continue to make your employees’ mental health a top priority at your company in 2022 by following these resolutions and exploring MyAdvisor’s holistic approach to supporting companies in their journey to recognize, treat and destigmatize mental health challenges.