Employee Wellbeing in 2023: 6 Ways to Support Your Employees
Employee wellbeing. Seriously think about it. What is the mental state of your employees? How do you know if they are hiding their mental health struggles behind a mask? How can you support them?
“Good health IS good business.” – Paul Drechsler, Chairman/CEO, Wates Group Limited
How can your company thrive without health and wellness support for all employees? Did you know 81% of workers are looking for workplaces that support employees’ mental health, according to APA’s 2022 Work and Wellbeing Survey?
How Mental Health and Employee Wellbeing Relate
Mental health is a state of wellbeing when an individual realizes their own abilities, can cope with the normal stress of life, can work productively and is able to contribute to their community, according to the World Health Organization.
Employee wellbeing refers to a professional’s holistic state of mental, emotional, and physical health. It’s obvious that mental health and employee wellbeing go hand in hand.
Gauging the Wellbeing of Employees
“Meanwhile in my head, I’m undergoing open-heart surgery.” - Anne Sexton, Pulitzer Prize winner for highly personal, confessional poetry
You are probably not a mind reader! So, how do you know if any of your employees aren’t experiencing optimal wellbeing? Here are 6 best ways to help you gauge their overall workplace wellbeing:
#1: Observe overall employee health including physical wellbeing and emotional wellbeing.
- Do you witness severe mood swings?
- Do you notice rapid weight loss or weight gain?
- Is the employee overly emotional about something insignificant?
#2: Notice level of employee engagement.
- Are they withdrawn?
- Does the employee have a low mood?
- Is a talkative employee unusually quiet?
#3: Monitor social wellbeing.
- Are you seeing aggressive behavior towards other team members?
- Does the employee suddenly lack self-care, such as poor grooming habits?
- Is there a change in social interactions, like eating lunch alone more often?
#4: Evaluate workplace stress levels.
- Are they having trouble concentrating?
- Is the employee having difficulty making simple decisions?
- Is the employee overwhelmed and can’t handle their typical workload?
- If they have a heavy workload, are they missing deadlines they always meet?
#5: Be aware of serious issues in personal lives.
- Is the employee easily irritable?
- Do they continually yawn or always look tired?
- Are they not engaged in their work and have lost their passion?
- Are they avoiding social activities like office birthday celebrations?
#6: Measure quality of work.
- Does the employee seem indifferent about their work?
- Are they failing to do their best work on a consistent basis?
- Are they not making a significant impact like they’ve in the past?
Ways to Support Your Employees
“We are embedding health and well-being at the heart of our business strategy because our people are our greatest asset, and we recognize that a healthy, happy and committed workforce is vital to our business success.” - Alex Gourlay, MD, Boots, a British healthcare company
Supporting employee wellbeing does not only start with CEOs. A strong support system must be present throughout your company. HR leaders, managers, and team members play a significant role. It’s important that an employee wellbeing strategy is in place.
First, know the laws. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows employees to request reasonable accommodation at any time without disclosing why. They may also request help at work on the same premises. Managers should always have an open-door policy to discuss both work problems and mental health concerns. However, remember to never force employees to disclose their mental health situation.
Second, an HR department that is responsive to employees’ needs and questions is a must. Answer calls, IMs, and emails within 24 hours or less, if possible. Another way to be responsive is to frequently conduct a pulse survey. This will gauge overall employee wellbeing. HR can narrow in on employees’ state of wellbeing when they ask the right questions. Asking employees to rate questions on a scale from 1-5 can provide helpful insight. Topic questions can include compensation, engagement, belonging, workload, and career goals.
Here are six ways to offer employee support:
#1: Provide Health Benefits, Including Mental Health Insurance
Employee wellbeing includes feelings of safety and financial wellbeing. Help your employees by offering comprehensive health care coverage. Be sure employees have access to mental health benefits and the health care costs are manageable.
Support employees by offering mental health services. Services could include an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), telehealth options, on-site and off-site after-hours care, and short-term disability. Companies should also encourage time off for mental health care. The Surgeon General’s report on mental health in the workplace states that organizations can further normalize and support mental health by modeling, communicating, and regularly promoting services.”
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” - Helen Keller
Paid sick leave, family, and medical leave (including paid parental leave) is necessary for employee wellbeing. Of course, as is paid vacation days. Recently, more organizations have begun offering paid mental health days as well. This encourages employees to take time for themselves.
#2: Offer Wellness Programs
Wellness programs help lead employees towards optimal health. A companywide mental health program can include quarterly health and wellness webinars. Topics such as corporate mindfulness are helpful. Monthly newsletters with articles on maintaining a healthy lifestyle offer snippets of advice. Social media posts on your internal site can promote an array of topics. These posts could offer helpful tidbits such as financial education tips, parenting support and elder care information.
Employee wellbeing initiatives also boost morale along while providing an inclusive environment. Fitness challenges promote a healthy lifestyle.
Offer perks, such as de-stressing activities. On-site yoga or meditation classes and discounted gym memberships are popular. Community involvement programs are fulfilling for the employees and for others! Allow employees to volunteer at a charity of their choice and take a paid day off to do so.
#3: Encourage a Healthy Work-life Balance
An empathetic work culture starts from the top down. The C-Suite needs to lead by example. Recent research shows employees have a high level of job satisfaction and increased productivity when they control how, when, and where to do their work. Be sure to always help with the workload for those needing support.
Offer remote working opportunities or hybrid work options if you can. Flexible hours help employees to not lose wages when personal or family needs arise. Companies should avoid unstable or unpredictable employee work schedules, which can result in increased income volatility. This could lead to an increased risk of economic hardship for employees, resulting in a decline in an employee’s physical and mental health. Schedule changes can especially directly affect employees with disabilities who may rely on special transportation.
Companies should set and respect boundaries when employees are on vacation or sick. This helps employees relax and not be anxious about missing work. They can relax, rest, and recharge. This is critical to their overall wellbeing.
#4: Create a Supportive Work Environment
Understand the unique needs of each employee. And always be accommodating to their needs. You may want to offer more frequent work breaks. For instance, for an employee who has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
“Mental health is a continuum, and people may fall anywhere on the spectrum.” - Amy Morin, Editor-in-Chief, Verywell Mind
Openly communicate and assure psychological safety. Build rapport, trust, and partnerships by holding weekly one-on-one meetings. And providing timely feedback. Managers should regularly give timely feedback on strengths and development needs.
When offering support, remember to be compassionate and understanding. Approach the conversation in a comforting and respectful way. Talk openly about your own struggles or share helpful information. Be an empathetic listener by being patient and interested in the employee.
“We rise by lifting others.” - Robert Ingersoll, 19th-century orator
#5: Offer Social Support
Fostering positive social interactions and relationships in the workplace supports employee wellbeing by creating positive employee experiences. Employees want to feel like they belong and add value. Knowing you matter has shown to lower stress and make a significant impact on your wellbeing, while feeling like you don’t matter can make employees depressed and insignificant. Provide regular recognition on why employees are valued. Always give praise for a job well done. This increases employees’ sense of value, purpose, and ability to manage stress.
Employees want to collaborate and be part of a team. Offer optional collaborative workspaces. This brings together teams to share ideas. And promotes a feeling of fellowship and belonging. Designate quiet work areas or provide noise-canceling headphones for focus time.
Company cultures promoting belonging help to foster a protective force against bias, discrimination, and exclusion. Talk openly and combat exclusion by showing compassion and respect. Pay attention to any unfair treatment towards those who need your support. Unfortunately, workplace bullying still exists. Watch HSI’s training video on destigmatizing mental health to learn more.
Get to know your direct reports and teammates as individuals. This helps those who have feelings of loneliness or isolation. Employees want to feel they belong and are an accepted member of the team. Reach out to remote employees. Have chats before or after meetings. At social gatherings and volunteer events, make it a point to really get to know your employees.
#6: Provide Training: HSI Can Help
Would you like to see your employees become more optimistic about their abilities? More enthusiastic about contributing and making a positive impact? It’s simple - provide growth opportunities based upon employee skills.
Provide personal development training programs. Discuss career paths with your direct reports. Be sure to evaluate roles and responsibilities as skill sets grow. Provide training to keep skills sharp and provide upskill training.
“I’m not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” - Amy March, from Little Women
HSI offers a wide variety of off-the-shelf programs for employees’ diverse needs. Here’s a sample of health and wellness training courses you can view now. Several key topics include courses specifically about employee mental health.
- Psychosis in the Workplace
- Mood Disorders in the Workplace
- Anxiety Disorders in the Workplace
- Addiction Disorders in the Workplace
- Personality Disorders in in the Workplace
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the Workplace
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in the Workplace
- Positive Self-Talk
- Putting Yourself First
- Fighting Perfectionism
- The Basics of Meditation
- Neurodiversity is Different Than Mental Health
- Disclosing a Physical or Mental Health Condition
Many of our clients open their HSI training library for self-directed employee learning. Employees can choose off-the-shelf training video courses to sharpen their skills and learn new ones. Sign up for a free trial of our HSI LMS. You will have access to our Business Skills library, to watch any of the courses mentioned above.
If you or someone you know or work with is struggling with their mental health, please visit the Center for Workplace Mental Health.