October 10, is World Mental Health Day. As we learn more and more about mental health, it has become more evident just how big of an impact it can have on your employees’ performance. Mental health is just as important of a factor on productivity as physical health.
And, like physical health, it’s beneficial for your company to track and promote your employees’ mental wellbeing. For example, depression alone costs U.S. businesses over $44 billion annually in lost productivity.
Similarly, in 2015 alone, major depressive disorder had an estimated economic impact of $210 billion. So, if mental health is having such an effect on business, how do you help employees struggling with mental health issues?
Unfortunately, there is no, one, right answer. There are; however, a plethora of moves any organization can make to support its employees. One of the best opportunities for a company to promote positive mental health is through your employee benefits policy.
Employee benefits can have a significant impact on your staff’s mental wellbeing. These 11 benefits will support your staff’s mental health at work.
The Top Eleven
There’s a plethora of employee benefits and perks that an organization can offer its employees. Still, many of these benefits range from unrelated, to ineffective, in regards to combating negative mental health issues.
With that being said, there are multiple benefits and perks that aid individuals who are dealing with mental health issues. These ten benefits can improve employees’ mental health at work.
1. Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
Employee Assistance Programs are work-based intervention programs designed to identify and assist employees in resolving issues. These issues can range from marital, to financial, to substance abuse and mental health concerns.
Companies usually offer EAPs at no cost to team members. Most employers operate their EAP through a third-party administrator. Using a third-party administrator is crucial to the success of your EAP.
Employees have to feel comfortable discussing professional and personal problems with the EAP administrator. Your staff needs to be able to talk about issues such as mental health, with confidence. They cannot fear they are putting their jobs or social lives in jeopardy.
If your business administers your EAP, it could prevent employees from coming forward and asking for the help they require. Still, EAPs are a terrific way to point employees struggling with mental illness, in the right direction, so they can receive the treatment they need.
2. Health Insurance
Health insurance is a critical tool for helping staff members who have a mental illness. As an employer, it is essential to select a health plan that includes mental health coverage.
There is an extensive list of mental health services your health plan should provide your staff. These services include outpatient and inpatient treatment, telemedicine, medication, and counseling. Each of these attributes can be vital for treating mental illnesses.
The improvements and prevalence of telemedicine are especially promising for addressing some of the challenges surrounding mental health.
According to BenefitsPro, telemedicine can make getting care anonymous and convenient, so patients can receive care where they’re most comfortable. These attributes are especially valuable when dealing with a subject as sensitive as mental health.
Learn the ins and outs of health insurance.
3. Leadership Training
One of the most significant problems regarding mental health at work is the stigma. There continues to be a stigma surrounding the discussion of mental health, which only serves to exacerbate the problems that mental health issues can create.
Because of this stigma, an important benefit to offer your staff is employee training. Train your managers, and leadership that mental illness is not a bad topic and one to avoid. Instead, teach them how to recognize employees with potential mental health issues.
Not only do your managers have to know how to spot mental illness, but they also need to be able to have intelligent and empathetic conversations with other employees. Your managers have to know the importance of speaking openly about mental illness rather than avoiding the topic.
Mobile technology has affected almost every aspect of modern life. Mental health is no exception. As previously stated, telemedicine is a tremendous tool for treating mental illness.
New applications, such as MoodKit and Happify, are specifically geared towards recognizing and improving mental health issues. MoodKit, for example, uses principles and techniques of cognitive behavior therapy to treat mental health issues.
These tools can be invaluable to your team members. New technology allows your employees to improve their mental health, on their own time, and where they feel the most comfortable.
Additionally, these applications focus on preventative care, which can be highly valuable for mental health. Because mental health carries a stigma, it has traditionally been an area of health that goes neglected or is only addressed until it reaches a crisis. Preventative care can reduce health care costs for both employer and employee.
5. Resiliency Training and Stress Management
Resiliency training and stress management, like the applications discussed above, focus on preventative care. According to Workforce, resiliency training aims to give workers the skills necessary to handle change and crises, positively and efficiently.
Both resiliency training and stress management work to lessen the impact of stress, and hopefully other mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. These courses are becoming more popular too. According to a 2015 Mercer survey, 42 percent of large employers offer resiliency or stress management programs.
6. Parental Leave
Another benefit that can aid workers’ mental health is parental leave. It’s important to note that parental leave is much preferable to just maternal leave. Although, maternal leave is a terrific place to start.
Paternal leave is paid time off for new parents, mom or dad, after the birth or adoption of a child. This leave provides parents with an opportunity to take care of their child without the stress of work getting in the way.
Becoming a new parent is an enormously stressful life event. If you don’t offer parental leave, and force parents to take unpaid time off, such as FMLA, this stress is compounded.
A Harris Poll conducted for Purchasing Power found that 80 percent of employees are under financial stress. This stress can have a significant adverse impact on business. Stress costs employers an average of $300 billion a year in stress-related health care and missed work.
Paid leave for new parents helps alleviate the financial portion of their situation, at least. Parents who are less stressed are also positive for your business because they can return, and be more productive, sooner.
Additionally, offering parental leave is vital to lessening gender discrimination in the workplace. When fathers (in addition to mothers) are taking leave for new children, it normalizes the act across genders. This normalization helps to reduce the likelihood of gender discrimination in hiring and promotion decisions.
Read more about parental and paid leave.
7. Financial Literacy Education
Like parental leave, financial literacy education is focused on improving your staffs’ financial stress. Financial literacy, as defined by the President’s Advisory Council, is “the ability to use knowledge and skills to manage financial resources effectively for a lifetime of financial well-being.”
Financial literacy helps employees by giving them the knowledge and ability to reach self-sufficiency in their daily financial lives. Without this education, according to Investopedia, your staff may fall victim to predatory lending, subprime mortgages, fraud, and high-interest rates.
Paid time off, or PTO, is a paid leave plan that combines sick leave and vacation time. PTO gives employees a set bank of time off at the beginning of each year. Employees can then choose whenever and however they want to use this time off.
PTO gives your employees a more considerable amount of flexibility in how they take their paid leave. Your staff now gets their entire bank of time off to use for sickness, vacation, running errands, or appointments. They no longer have to be one, or the other.
9. Flexible Work
Flexible work options include flexible location, flexible schedule, and flexible time. Each of these options presents unique benefits that can work to aid those dealing with mental health issues.
Flexible location gives your employees the ability to choose where they work. A flexible schedule allows your staff the ability to decide when they work. Flexible hours give your employees the power to select the number of hours they work during the week.
Flexible work is a terrific benefit for those with mental health issues. This benefit allows these employees to work around periods of time during which they are dealing with their mental health. Team members can also work around treatment they receive such as counseling or doctor’s appointments.
Find out more about flexible work.
This benefit, like parental leave, is critical for your employees with children. Every parent knows that kids, like consuming too many adult beverages, can oscillate between joyful and awful in minutes.
Looking after a small person’s life is a huge responsibility. This responsibility carries a level of stress that is oppositely proportional to the size of these tiny people. So, as an employer, it can be beneficial to both your staff and you to provide childcare benefits.
For example, dependent care assistance programs, child care subsidies, flexible spending accounts, and onsite daycare are all employee benefits that can improve the mental health of your employees with children.
Dependent care assistance programs, child care subsidies, flexible spending accounts, and onsite daycare are all examples of child care employee benefits.
11. Social Stuff
One of the signs of depression and anxiety can be isolation. It becomes a vicious cycle as those depressed isolate themselves, only to find themselves missing the interaction and becoming further depressed.
Still, there are many ways your company can help employees break this negative cycle. Company luncheons, team building activities, or even going out for happy hour are all examples of events your business can use to get your employees out and socializing with their colleagues.
These activities can positively impact your organization in multiple ways too. Obviously helping depressed employees break out of a rut is a positive impact. But these events also help your team become closer and, hopefully, work more effectively.
The more we learn about mental health, the more we are finding out how much it impacts an individual’s total health and their workplace effectiveness. Your employee benefits can be the difference between an employee being lost in the shadows, or breaking through and finding success.
So, make a mental note, and use these 11 benefits to support your staff’s mental health at work.