Employees Mental Wellbeing Needs to be a Higher Priority
Over recent weeks, I’ve been surprised by several companies that have contacted me.
Surprised because they are only now setting up new mental wellbeing departments.
How to develop a mental wellbeing strategy for the workplace
I was so surprised because I’d have assumed that, considering the size of their business and the number of employees for whom they are responsible, they would already have such a department in place. However, it is good that they are now addressing this vital arena.
Secondly, it is also surprising the speed with which these organisations are trying to tackle their shortfall. Though this in itself is not a bad thing it does appear it is often with minimal forethought.
I understand that the recent pandemic has highlighted the extra pressure on all of our mental and health energies. But addressing the serious issues around mental health requires careful strategising.
Developing a robust and well-thought-out strategy is essential for effectively addressing mental health issues.
If you are not sure how to do this, then the first step is to research and take advice from trained professionals. Getting it wrong, or putting half-baked things in place, may have dire consequences for the very people you are trying to support and help.
Ultimately, an ill-thought-through plan of action could end up doing more harm than good.
Once you have a considered strategy, you then need to think about how to implement it.
I would ask anyone developing this type of department to understand that taking an in-house approach alone will not be enough. Any in-house care you provide will need to be integrated with that of qualified and/or experienced practitioners. You are unlikely to find these internally, and will need to look outside your business and actively collaborate with people who can help meet the needs.
And how do you know what these needs are?
The best way to uncover the needs is to ask your employees individually, where possible. But in taking this approach, you will need to overcome several hurdles – it is a delicate balancing act.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these hurdles.
How to identify the real needs
It is unlikely that you will identify the areas that need addressing by using a standard form or questionnaire. The problem with these is that the questions asked are often unconsciously skewed by the person writing them. The result is that they tend to provide a global snapshot based on what you subconsciously want to hear as opposed to reality.
Unfortunately, asking someone directly what they need help with will probably not work either. Many people find it hard to admit anything that might be viewed by others as a weakness, especially to those in management.
On top of this is another common problem. Most human beings – inherent in our makeup – want to give answers that they think will please the enquirer.
And lastly, while many will be aware that there is something wrong or not working for them, they may be unable to pinpoint and articulate what it is.
All this is to say, you have to be smart to uncover the truth, and bringing in experienced and outside sources is an efficient way to do this.
Different tiers of support to consider
Once you have a clear way forward, you can begin to build in different levels of support.
On a surface level, there will be some things that are both helpful and relatively easy to organise in-house. These might include peer groups, mentor support, and private discussion get-togethers.
For the next tier of support, you should consider bringing in outside services. And you should access these via professionally qualified and reputable sources. Take the time to research these. I always advise against those offering untested, unsupported, or unevidenced techniques.
Different expert resources
To reach employees on a personal level, an inspirational storyteller or speaker can be a helpful resource. Such a person who has lived through and overcome similar challenges will be able to connect on a deeper human level.
Some mental health issues will need a deeper level of individual support. For this, you will need a plan and access professional sources, such as counsellors, psychiatrists, and psychologists.
Remember, mental health often walks hand-in-hand with the physical. Bringing in outside expert help with nutrition, exercise, and fitness can often work to prevent serious problems.
Likewise, never overlook the spiritual element. People’s belief systems are not a layer easily uncovered or discussed. But some will find exploring these avenues hugely beneficial, so be sensitive in this regard.
In closing, I encourage you with this:
A properly constructed mental health and wellbeing strategy — plus a willingness to bring in outside help — will benefit both staff and employer and can bolster the longevity of both.
And it is well worth the investment required.
I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this important topic. Leave me a comment below!
As a motivational speaker and leadership trainer (now online as well as offline), I help individuals and businesses move forward and overcome challenges with confidence, strength, and compassion. To discover how I can assist you, check out my in-person and virtual services.
Alternatively, book a call with me, and let’s chat!