HR Experts Discuss the Importance of Mental Health Programs in the Workplace

/HR Experts Discuss the Importance of Mental Health Programs in the Workplace
HR Experts Discuss the Importance of Mental Health Programs in the Workplace 2018-03-13T16:26:24+00:00

The average North American adult will spend close to 100,000 hours of their life at work.

That’s a big chunk of time.

In the past, employees have been told to “leave personal matters at home,” but there are times when personal issues impact one’s work life.

As the conversation around wellness and mental health continues, it’s becoming more relevant than ever for employers to offer employee wellness programs that include a mental health support component. While some employers have a difficult time justifying the expense, others understand the correlation between happy employees, productivity, and the bottom line.

This month, we’ve asked three HR experts to answer the following question:

What’s the most significant outcome that has resulted from having a great mental health program/strategy for employees?

Here’s what they had to say:

Erik van Vulpen from Analytics in HR
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“A mental health program or strategy can have multiple purposes that really depend on the organization. Some organizations focus on reducing employee absence in order to save money. This is a significant business outcome.

Other organizations may focus on reducing safety incidents. An accident on a ship or on an off-shore drilling platform may stop operations for multiple days resulting in severe financial losses for the organization. A mental health program may help in this strategy.

This is also what the science shows. For example, research in Japan amongst 4,407 nurses in 8 general hospitals showed that the percentage of medical errors was significantly higher for the group that was mentally in poor health, compared to the group that was mentally in good health (Suzuki, Ohida, Kaneita et al., 2004).

As you can imagine, the cost for the hospital in terms of patient well-being, financial consequences and reputation can be tremendous.

Interestingly, nurses that worked shifts had a lower mental health compared to nurses that didn’t work shifts, most likely due to sleep problems involved in shift-work. An employee wellness program could thus help both employees and employers.”

Laura from New to HR
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“The work experience of people in today’s working environment is stressful and demanding. Initiatives which address the stressful working environment are all about removing the risk factors for the company, which includes heavy workloads, long hours, shift work, bullying, harassment, occupational violence etc. Stigmatising attitudes regarding job performance and career progression are also a huge problem, the job experience is better when employees feel they work in a good environment, with support from their team members and management.

The most significant outcome from having a great health strategy is around understanding matters associated with all the conditions in the workplace, removing barriers for everyone, and focusing on promoting ‘recovery’ through peer support, employee education and training. This increases the awareness across the organization about your health program and makes sure that there are no stigma’s attached. So, colleagues are more willing to (discretionary) assist.

Remember your organization will receive a positive return on investment if you create a healthy workplace and the result is improved performance, productivity, quality and employee engagement!”

Christy from LandrumHR
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“While we like to think employees can separate things going on at home and at work, the smartest employers know that’s not always the case. If an employee is dealing with a difficult situation at home, nine times out of ten it is going to affect their happiness and productivity at the office.

Employee wellness is the topic of many employers’ conversations, and it doesn’t just account for physical wellness. Mental health programs are a great way to make sure employees are taken care of so they can do their jobs well. Mental health programs have a significant impact on employees when they’re feeling overwhelmed during the holiday season but are unsure where to turn to. Having a mental health program also allows for employees dealing with marital and family issues to get confidential guidance from a trusted professional, free of charge.

Mental health programs have consistently helped people deal with their stress outside of work, which is a win-win for everyone involved. Employees with less stress outside of work = happy and productive employees at work.”

Laura, Erik, and Christy – Thanks so much for talking about the importance of having a solid mental health program for employees 🙂