Employee mental health issues have always been part of any business, but COIVD-19 just compounded the issue and brought it front and center for employers to address it immediately.
Marvin Opperman, People Director, Sage Africa & Middle East writes that COVID-19 dominated 2020, and businesses locked into survival mode expected employees to act as a lifeline, to bend over backward, with less pay, more hours, and little in terms of job security.
These challenges are set to continue well into this year.
How can HR professionals create a new formula to reverse a punishing 2020 for both employers and employees?
We picked 3 from Opperman’s recommendations.
1- Personalized pastoral care
HR’s task is to listen to employees, monitor their sentiments, and share both insights and solutions with the company’s leadership to ensure the best possible workplace experiences, productivity, and output.
But a broad-brush approach where everyone receives the same baseline of pastoral care simply won’t suffice and could lead to dissatisfaction in the workplace, and result in a loss of the best talent.
2- Making data core
HR professionals should have access to employees’ emergency contact details, employment records, and most recent appraisals, at their fingertips.
Staff could be online and working at any point of the day, generating masses of data that HR teams will need to analyze if they want an accurate picture of the employee experience. Teams need tools to help them digest large amounts of complex data quickly.
One of the most insidious aspects of stress or depression is that its victims often suffer in silence.
Individual employees are less likely to come forward, especially when isolated and working from home, and will quickly find themselves on a slippery slope as they hurtle headlong towards low job satisfaction and reduced productivity. That’s why HR has to make the first move, ensuring employees know they are always around to listen to and support them at any time of day.
3- AI on the job
AI and machine learning tools can lend a helping hand when it comes to analyzing data quickly.
AI can detect trends and patterns that are imperceptible to humans amid masses of data and AI tools can deliver predictions and offer business recommendations.
The human element remains key as it’s the people professionals who solve problems with empathy.
We found 3 more out of the box ideas
One of the best ways for a manager to help employees, is to simply ask: How can I support you in this moment? This gives staff members control and allows them to decide what, if anything, they want to share.
Bill Goodwin, CEO of MeMD, a national telehealth provider offering virtual urgent care, primary care, and behavioral health solutions said that when it comes to employees’ mental health checks, he advises managers to:
4- Set the tone
Talk about mental health openly. Share your own challenges, including your failures. Normalize therapy, and destigmatize mental illness. Create a culture where people feel safe and encouraged to seek mental health services.
5- Take care of their families
Employees will struggle at work if there are struggles at home. Make sure your benefits plan includes the right services for dependents.
6- Train your leaders
Top-down training is vital for your leaders so they can understand the importance of mental wellness, and signs of mental and emotional challenges, and the solutions the company can offer.
UAE’s mental health survey
The coronavirus crisis has put the provision of comprehensive health benefits at the top priority for UAE-based employees in 2021, according to new research from Aetna International.
Aetna surveyed over 1,200 UAE businesses and their employees during the unprecedented changes in operational models and working conditions made necessary by the global health crisis.
It found that to more than 80% of the UAE workforce, mental and physical wellness are now more important than they have ever been.
65% of UAE workers showed eagerness to return to the social environment of an office.
Two-thirds agree that employers should spend more on plans, and 76% called for more comprehensive coverage in light of the pandemic.
Provisions for mental health stand out as the greatest priority, with 72% saying they should receive comprehensive coverage in group plans.
The research showed that while only 29% of UAE firms currently offer virtual or in-person mental-health counseling services, and almost two in three are exploring the possibility of giving their employees access to such services.