Rethinking Employee Wellbeing πŸ’‘

Hi folks!

This is Mariam Mushtaq, bringing you the first edition of this week's HR Brain Pickings newsletter!

It's been 4 (FOUR!) years since COVID-19 hit back in 2020, bringing several critical issues to the forefront for HR professionals, like Mental Health and Employee Wellbeing. It's now a top priority for many companies. πŸ‘

So, what are we doing today to address Employee Wellbeing? Let's dive in!

Employee adoption πŸͺ«

Let’s explore the most significant hurdle in employee mental health today: the underutilization of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and mental health benefits. πŸ”Ž

Amwell, a telemedicine company, stated that 85% of U.S. employee respondents had not used employer-provided mental health benefits.

Gartner’s EVP Benchmarking Survey shows that despite 87% of employees having access to mental and emotional well-being offerings, only 23% use them.

Even with the increasing priority placed on employee mental health and companies offering various mental health benefits, adoption rate is still low. πŸ‘Ž

Head scratcher huh? I did some digging and these are some of the main reasons for the low adoption rates ⬇️

  • Stigma: There have been tons of campaigns in an effort to destigmatize mental health. However, the stigma in the workplace around mental health issues is still very much prevalent. According to an HBR study, respondents were the least comfortable talking with their company’s HR and senior leaders. 🚫

  • Privacy Concerns: Lack of privacy is also a major reason, closely associated with stigma that heavily discourages employees from using any company provided mental health benefits. πŸ•΅οΈβ€β™‚οΈ.

  • Lack of Awareness: A majority of employees have also cited that they either are not aware or just don’t know how to access their current mental health benefits. πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ

  • No Motivation or Priority on Mental Health: A 2023 report by One Medical found that 45% of employees who didn't seek mental healthcare cited being too busy as the reason. πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ This is an important note as it signifies how personal mental health can be, and we can only do as much as possible to ensure employees have access to something if and when they feel ready.

Beyond EAPs

The perception of mental health in the workplace has undergone a generational shift, and traditional Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) alone aren't enough. πŸ”„

Companies aspiring to do better must rethink their strategies beyond just ticking boxes or relying solely on numbers to justify the adoption of mental health services. πŸ€”

While people analytics is crucial, focusing solely on quantitative targets for mental health improvements can feel a bit impersonal.πŸ“Š

Let’s explore some strategies to enhance mental health adoption in the workplace:

Focus on Culture and Psychological Safety

Having a plethora of mental health benefits becomes meaningless without psychological safety in the workplace. πŸ›‘οΈ A significant effort is needed to cultivate a company culture that upholds values creating a trustworthy and safe environment for discussing mental health issues.

What can be done

  • Implementing anonymized feedback systems for employees to voice concerns without fear of judgment.πŸ—£οΈ

  • Training managers in active listening and non-judgmental dialogue to foster trust. πŸ‘‚

Leaders Need to be Allies

Leadership's genuine concern for employee mental health can break down barriers and reduce stigma. When leaders actively show support and understanding for mental health issues, it encourages a more open and accepting workplace culture.🀝

What can be done

  • Leaders can normalize mental health conversations and reduce stigma by sharing personal experiences.πŸ—¨οΈ

  • They can also lead by example by setting healthy boundaries and prioritizing personal well-being. πŸ’ͺ

  • Advocating for resources such as training programs, mental health benefits, and professional support can foster a secure and supportive environment. 🏒

Continue to offer a range of mental health benefits

Remember that mental health is very personal. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work. Different individuals have varying needs, whether it's professional counseling or stress relief methods. 🌱

What can be done

  • Build strategic communication campaigns to raise awareness around mental health and the current benefits being offered. πŸ“’

  • Implement flexible work hours and stress the importance of work-life balance. ⏰

  • Offer counseling sessions, educational resources, and tools to enhance mental health awareness. πŸ“š

  • Create a wellness hub on the intranet for easy access to all available mental health resources. πŸ’»

The Bottom Line

It's important to note that HR professionals are not solely responsible for this transformation. Feeling disheartened when efforts to create a safe and supportive work environment seem unacknowledged is natural. Remember that change is a gradual process, and dismantling mental health stigma can take time. 🌈

Your role as an HR today is to do the best you can in fostering a supportive atmosphere, consistently checking in on employees' mental health needs, and continuing to promote awareness about these efforts. 🌟

Please remember that your dedication to this cause is invaluable and contributes to meaningful, long-term change. πŸ‘

Have you successfully implemented mental health policies and benefits in your workplace? We'd be thrilled to feature your experiences in our "HR Voices: Real Stories, Real Insights" section. Share with us!

Today’s Key Takeaways πŸ—’οΈ

EngageWith Feature Highlight

πŸ“ Anonymous Feedback: Create a space for your people to voice their opinion anonymously.

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Today’s Reads

  • Curious about the unique journey of a Magician turned HR expert? Explore this fascinating journey of this HR professional. ✨

  • Planning your retirement journey? Gain valuable insights from three seasoned HR professionals who successfully navigated their way to retirement.’ πŸ‘©β€πŸ’Ό

  • Helping employees with burnout - why employees won’t use wellness benefits. Understand the gap. πŸ”