Mental Health In The Workplace:
Do You Know The Facts?
We are opening that door that most business owners never open – mental health and the workplace. Everyone avoids this type of topic in the workplace because it makes everyone just feel awkward or out of place. A lot of people who suffer from anxiety or depression don’t identify with having a mental illness. The word illness itself can have a traumatic effect on someone because of the negative light that shadows on it. I say: we start talking about it and get educated because these mental health statistics are only going to increase. Employees who suffer from mental health or stress can negatively affect their production. An employee with mental health or stress issues will lack in job performance, productivity and physical capability to do daily functions or tasks within the workplace (Rajgopal, 2019). Depression, for example, interferes with a person’s ability to complete a physical job task by 20% (Rajgopal,2019). It also reduces the cognitive or mental performance of a task by 30% (Rajgopal, 2019).
Mental health is one of the main health concerns in the United States, where one in five adults have reported a form of mental illness (Rajgopal, 2019). By 2019, the National Alliance on Mental Illness claimed that reported mental illness has gone up by 1.1% (NAMI, 2019). About 63% of Americans make up the workforce (Rajgopal, 2019) and in 2019, the global economy lost about $193 billion due to lack of productivity due to mental health disorders (NAMI, 2019).
Now that you know the stats, the question for business owners is… now what? What can we do to make our work environment more welcoming so our employees feel safe, comfortable and motivated?
Here are some solutions an employer can do to help EMPLOYEES with their mental states:
- Implement mental health applications, self-evaluation tools & clinical testing. Employers can offer mental health and self-evaluation tools such as an online mental health checkup tool. Some that are offered online are Mental Health Meter, Check up from the Neck up, Work-Life Balance quizzes. As well as offer free worksite clinical screening for employees. For example, the American Heart Association has created a universal blueprint to help employers run their own mental health screening onsite (American Heart Association, 2018). Employers can also share apps for stress, anxiety or depression; some popular ones are Calm, Head Space, MoodPath, and Lake-Coloring Books.
- Social Gatherings. Isolation is the number one sign of depression and anxiety. If you start to notice an employee not being involved as much as they once were, maybe it’s time to start implementing a community lunch. This gives employees the opportunity to socialize and destress, while also encouraging isolated employees to interact, feel noticed and welcomed. This can help employees stay efficient with production and motivated to work, which can lead to less turnover in the future.
- Offering a flexible working schedule. Allowing employees flexible hours, schedules, and location is a de-stressor for someone dealing with their mental health issues. About 78% of employees have reported that having a flexible work schedule made them more productive at work (Noyes, 2019). At least 77% of future workforce candidates will only consider jobs with flexible working schedules (Noyes, 2019). So, if you want your business to be the next consideration for the new workforce, implementing a flexible work schedule may be one of the necessities in the future.
- Provide an efficient Mental Health plan. Some employers offer an employee assistance program (EAP), which allows employees to have easy access to a professional that can help the employee with personal problems they are dealing with. This is completely confidential and allows the employee to access help without having to worry about costs on their own insurance plans. This type of help can be implemented in various ways, as EAP professionals can be virtual or physical. At Groff NetWorks, we are very excited to have implemented an EAP with MarketPlace Chaplains. They are unaffiliated with any religion, and they show up to listen and counsel for any of our employees seeking help. These chaplains are also referred to as a “Company Care Service”. Our MarketPlace Chaplains visit our office one day every week to check up on employees to see how they are doing, helping employees with the deeper issues below the surface. Not only are they available to help out employees, but they can assist our staff families, locally or across the country! According to the Department of Labor 72% percent of the American workforce believes that no one cares about them (MarketPlace Chaplains, 2020), so implementing the MarketPlace Chaplains gives our employees that sense of care that a lot of Americans lack in their work environments (MarketPlace Chaplains, 2020).
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to implement all of these solutions all in one day at your company. This is a process that can be well-developed over time. Having any type of employee mental health benefit is a step in the right direction for the future growth of your company and employees. As an employer, you can be the difference between an employee being a falling and rising star in your corporation.
American Heart Association. (2018, May 11). Employers are increasingly using workplace health screenings. Retrieved March 4, 2020, from https://www.heart.org/en/professional/workplace-health/health-screening-services/employers-are-increasingly-using-workplace-health-screenings
Market Place Chaplains. (n.d.). Workplace Chaplains: Chaplain. Retrieved February 28, 2020, from https://www.mchapusa.com
NAMI. (2019, September 25). Mental Health By The Numbers. Retrieved February 26, 2020, from https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-by-the-number
Noyes, J. (2019, August 31). 7 Big Statistics About the State of Flexible Work Arrangements. Retrieved from https://www.zenefits.com/workest/7-big-statistics-about-the-state-of-flexible-work-arrangements/
Rajgopal, T. (2019, April 10). Mental Health in the Workplace. Retrieved February 26, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3062016/