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Creating a Healthy Work Environment: 3 Ways HR Can Prioritize Employee Mental Health

Posted by Insightlink on 07/14/23

Maintaining a healthy environment is an important part of any successful business. After all, workers who feel safe in their jobs can be more productive and less likely to leave the organization prematurely. There’s also an ethical responsibility to protect those who contribute to the business. 

As a human resources (HR) professional, ensuring workers remain healthy often falls within your day-to-day duties. This isn’t just about preventing physical injuries or illness, though. There’s increasing recognition that taking steps to support employee psychological and emotional wellness has positive outcomes for all stakeholders. It is, therefore, essential to identify and implement protocols that prioritize mental health.
hr mental health
Set Realistic Expectations
Perhaps one of the most prevalent influencers of negative employee mental health experiences is being put under undue pressure. Certainly, most roles will have a certain amount of occasional stress involved. Having ambitious targets and expectations can also be good motivators for productivity and growth. However, HR professionals can help prioritize workers’ well-being by ensuring that these expectations and goals remain realistic.
This can begin with assessing targets and expectations alongside average professional performances in each role. Look at what workers in these positions are usually able to get done throughout the day. Wherever possible, compare direct employee insights alongside historical performance metrics. While the hard data is useful, employees will be able to identify the components that are most directly responsible for excessive stress, anxiety, and burnout in their work lives.
You should also work with departments to ensure that workplace goals and processes are aligned with what employees can actually accomplish. Solid workflow management practices can impact mental health because these protocols reduce errors, inefficiencies, and unnecessary tasks that contribute to workplace stress. HR can encourage the introduction of automated tools that remove menial or repetitive tasks from the workflow. It’s also to make certain day-to-day duties aren’t dependent on multitasking, which can cause workers to feel overwhelmed. The more streamlined and focused the workflow can be, the less negative pressure there is likely to be on workers.
Provide Supportive Resources
It’s important to recognize that employers have a certain duty of care for their workers’ mental health. As an HR professional, you are often a key figure in ensuring the business meets this need. This includes investing in aspects of company culture that help prevent and mitigate negative effects the workplace may have on employees’ psychological and emotional wellness. By focusing your efforts on a range of supportive resources, you may also be able to minimize absenteeism and turnover.
This can include direct mental health resources. These may be connected to worker benefits. For instance, implementing paid mental health days or ensuring healthcare plans include psychological wellness services. It can also be practical to offer access to subsidized telehealth therapy services. This empowers workers to get the help they need without unnecessary disruption to their personal or work lives. Even educating workers about the signs of mental health difficulties and techniques to manage stress can be a positive resource for everyone.
There are also indirectly impactful resources HR personnel should arrange. For instance, regular self-care can be a powerful influence on workers’ holistic well-being. By offering a range of tools that enable employees to maintain such activities, businesses are demonstrating that they understand the importance of a tailored approach to wellness. Some options here could include offering subsidized access to gyms or recreational activities. You could arrange a variety of free healthy snacks. Partnering with local businesses to provide occasional discounted massage or spa services can be useful, too.
Encourage Colleague Friendships
Strong colleague connections are often considered essential for productivity, collaboration, and innovation. However, genuine workplace friendships tend to have a significant impact in more complex ways. When workers form authentic relationships, the result can be higher levels of trust, greater emotional intensity, and a real sense of belonging. This can boost feelings of satisfaction and happiness that support mental wellness. Not to mention that friends offer invaluable mutual support for inevitable tough periods.
As an HR professional, you need to actively encourage workers to cultivate friendships. This can begin with exposing workers to opportunities for socialization outside of their immediate team groups. Set up recreational events or celebrations that involve people from all departments. Encouraging mingling with people workers may not have daily contact with can improve the diversity of their friendships, which tends to be mentally and socially enriching for everyone involved. Not to mention that interdepartmental friendships are less subject to issues related to immediate team dynamics and conflicts.
In addition, it’s vital not to overlook remote or hybrid workers in your efforts. Working from home can often be an isolating experience, which can be detrimental to mental wellness. You can help here by providing casual chat channels on communications software that allow colleagues to interact in a friendly way. You can also set up online gaming sessions or movie screenings. Wherever possible, though, it’s important to arrange in-person get-togethers so remote workers can develop their friendships beyond the confines of the screen.
As an HR professional, taking steps to prioritize worker mental health can have a significant impact on the wider organization. Firstly, it’s important to set realistic performance expectations for workers and adjust workflows to minimize potential burnout. Ensuring the company invests in supportive resources can also provide preventative tools and coping mechanisms for workers. In addition, encouraging employees to cultivate genuine workplace friendships can boost the happiness and companionship that help them navigate challenging experiences.
Furthermore, it’s worth considering how your efforts can minimize the stigma surrounding mental health. Often the best resource you can offer workers is the confidence that they can address mental wellness challenges without the fear that their honesty might affect their career or trigger discrimination. It’s important to plan long-term strategies geared toward open communication and strengthening everyone’s knowledge on the subject.
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