Supporting Mental Health in the Workplace

It goes without saying how important it is for companies to focus intently on supporting mental health — an ongoing process of putting resources and investment towards keeping employees safe, productive and comfortable in their work-life balance. There were a handful of engaging sessions that honed in on this topic at SHRM 2021 and how we can apply it in the workplace today.

As we continue to adjust to our new normal, it’s important to not lose sight of how vital a role mental health resources have played in managing the pandemic for employees, who have had to quickly navigate a changing workplace and overall lifestyle.

How to Support Your Staff
First and foremost, Andrea Herron, Sr. HR Director at WebMD, emphasized the importance of learning the warning signs and practical tools to better understand and support mental health at work.

“Your role as the HR partner is critical,” she said, and we must not let Compassion Fatigue overcome us. This is characterized by physical and emotional exhaustion and a decrease in the ability to empathize. “We don’t want to end up there because then you’re not showing up for yourself, for your family, for your organization,” Herron said.

Instead, she advises HR partners and employees alike to practice the following: Take your time off. Shut off the computer, and practice one of many resiliency exercises to help decompress, re-charge and bring balance to your life. This includes exercise, journaling, sleep, self-care and beauty breaks.

Transform Workplaces to Achieve Worker Well-Being

Beyond personal steps we can take to support mental health, it’s important to bring those innovations to the workplace and see what benefits the employee experience for the better.

Worker well-being sits squarely in the middle of this evolution. New technologies and fast-evolving work demands arrive at a dizzying pace. New employment arrangements and global platforms for work are now the new normal.

Lewis Casey Chosewood and Chia-Chia Chang took to the virtual stage to examine the new way we work and what we know about the tight link between work and well-being. The session discusses Total Worker Health, an integrated approach to advancing worker well-being. Highlights of this system are to:

  • Keep workers safe
  • Establish workplace policies, practices and programs that grow health
  • Create worker well-being

This trio of broad points is drilled down to what is called a hierarchy of interventions – best practices to achieve optimal condition for the employee:

  • Eliminate – working conditions that threaten safety and health
  • Substitute – health-enhancing policies and programs
  • Redesign – the work environment for safety and health
  • Educate – for safety and health
  • Encourage – personal change

By incorporating these best practices, it will leave your organizations in better shape to scale up and improve your employees’ well-being in the workplace and beyond.

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