Increase Productivity by Focusing on Mental Health
Most employer benefits focus on physical health, but mental health is just as impactful for employees. Depression costs employers an estimated $44 billion each year in lost productivity.1 Employers can show support for employees by creating a positive work environment, as well as offering concrete benefits for mental health care.
Create a Positive Work Environment
While every employee plays a role in contributing to workplace culture, employers are responsible for setting expectations. Some ways that employers can influence a positive work culture include:
Promote a healthy work-life balance. Setting a healthy expectation of working hours vs. resting hours can help improve productivity when your employees are at work. Understandably, employees may be expected to work more than their usual 40 hours for an emergency or a deadline, but that shouldn’t be the norm.
Encourage taking vacation time. Taking time off can help increase productivity, improve physical and mental health, and more.2 However, providing paid time off isn’t enough if your employees don’t feel they can take advantage of it. Ensure there are processes in place to cover employees while they are gone and help your employees manage their workload so they feel empowered to take a break.
Make mental health part of the conversation. Encourage managers to have regular check-ins with employees that aren’t task-focused. Ask questions about how employees are feeling about their work, their productivity, and their success. Don’t feel the pressure to pry. You can respect the privacy of employees and their personal lives while also being considerate for their wellbeing. It’s also valuable to have a dedicated employee in Human Resources for mental health matters in case employees are not comfortable speaking with managers.
Provide Mental Health Benefits
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): Employee assistance programs are an affordable, effective way to support your employees. These programs generally offer free services to employees to help provide counseling, legal assistance, caregiving advice, and more. If you already offer an EAP, be sure to promote it regularly, as only 5% of employees use them annually.3
Ensure your medical insurance covers mental health care. When you choose a medical plan, evaluate the options your employees have for treatment, including medications for mental illnesses. While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Mental Health Parity Act generally require plans to offer a certain level of mental health coverage, it may not be enough to encourage employees to seek the treatment they need.
Offer a telemedicine resource. Telemedicine benefits can provide an anonymous, convenient way for someone to seek mental health treatment. Usually, the cost-per-visit is lower than an in-person appointment and allows your employees to visit with a provider on their schedule.
Provide a discount for mental health apps. There are many apps available, such as Headspace, that offer programs for employee discounts.
Employees are one of the greatest assets to any company, and it’s important to invest in their well-being. Cultivating a positive work environment, providing mental health resources and offering mental health benefits can show support for employees, which will ultimately benefit your organization.
This blog is up to date as of January 2020 and has not been updated for changes in the law, administration or current events.