In a previous blog, we talked about how employees' priorities have changed due to the pandemic and why employers should pay attention to them to guarantee a safe return to work. However, another key element that should be a concern for companies is the impact that this crisis has had on the workers’ mental health during these stressful times.
Prior to the pandemic, a survey done by Mental Health America (MHA) found that 63% of employees reported that workplace stress impacted their mental and behavioral health significantly. Now, most recent MHA’s data revealed that more than 88,000 people have developed depression or anxiety as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
One example of how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting the mental health and well-being workforce is the healthcare industry. A recent study published on Frontiers in Psychology found that healthcare professionals are struggling with higher levels of stress, depression, anxiety, tiredness as well as lower feelings of control over their lives.
According to the IFEBP, more than one-third of the organizations surveyed have either added or are considering adding more components for existing employees’ mental health benefits. Nevertheless, our findings say supporting mental health in the workplace stills being a challenge for many employers.
In 2019, a survey conducted by the DEMEC showed that: 58% of employers said they handle mental health issues better when they know about them, but they could be more proactive if they spot signs earlier; 55% said they only communicate about mental health when there is an issue or when they are asked; and 50% of employees said their company doesn’t provide training to managers to identify mental health needs in their workplace.
Mental health problems can negatively affect workplaces in many ways. Consequences absenteeism, changes in employees’ attitudes and other behaviors such as lack of motivation and commitment, poor work relationships, increment of tensions and conflicts as well as work performance. Keep in mind that when these factors are in place, they generate an unsafe work environment.
For this reason, we share you some useful tips based on the NSC mental health recommendations to help you to maintain a healthy and safe work environment:
Build a transparent communication
A frequent and transparent communication with your employees can alleviate high rates of stress, anxiety and uncertainty regarding their safety when they return to work. Provide them a space where they feel free of voice their doubts and concerns in order to identify sources of stress and develop solutions. Also, frequently communicate to them about the protections and resources that will be provided in order to let them know what to expect once they return to work.
Provide resources to your employees
Consider educating your employees by providing them reliable sources of information regarding COVID-19 as well as workshops and proper training about mental health safety in order to be better prepared to cope and recognize signs in themselves. In addition to this, encourage them to consult local and national resources from health care authorities.
Consider mental health education to supervisors
As we saw previously, mental health continues to be a challenge for many companies. It is necessary that employers receive training on mental health education in order to be the first to recognize signs and behaviors that can affect employee safety. Employers have to lead with the example on promoting mental health practices such as respectful communication, active listening and support.
Beyond all safety measures and controls that employers are placing to get back to the workplace, we believe that mental health is a critical component to extend employees’ protection as well as having the proper resources and tools that add value to a safe workplace.
Kwema is a company that mitigates the safety risks that employees may face every day at their work. Our safety devices activate an emergency protocol alerting the safety staff or 911. Moreover, our technology is designed to avoid adoption hurdles and training costs by being placed in something many employees already wear.