Studies repeatedly show that American employees are overworked and overstressed. Thus, it’s more important than ever for HR professionals to understand what steps they can take to boost employees’ well-being. Employees who struggle with stress-related issues resulting from working conditions are less engaged, less productive, and less likely to remain with a company. Making organizational changes to boost employees’ mental wellness will boost engagement and retention. More importantly, it will result in a positive workplace culture.
There are many ways that HR can work with others at a company to ensure employees’ well-being. The following are some of the more worthwhile tactics to keep in mind.
Offer Flexibility in Working Arrangements
Again, evidence suggests that Americans are working too many hours. In the short term, they may feel productive. However, in the long run, the mental health consequences of this approach will reduce their overall productivity.
Employers can help by simply encouraging a work-life balance. That may mean different things for different companies. For instance, your organization may consider allowing employees to work from home more often in order to provide a break from their long commutes. This has been shown to yield improvements in employees’ mood and satisfaction because it simply offers them greater opportunities to find balance in their daily lives. Even seemingly minor tasks such as getting a dental cleaning can become much less stressful when people know that their flexible schedules make completing those tasks much easier.
Focus on Wellness
Companies can promote employee wellness by providing their employees with access to healthy food, such as fruits. They can also consider providing perks such as stress management seminars, yoga classes, and sit-stand desks in order to encourage their employees to stay healthy.
Provide Social Opportunities
Although it is by no means a cure for a stress, having social connections with coworkers helps employees to reduce the effects of stress in many cases.
Coordinate with other executives to determine how you can adjust your current office layout to facilitate greater interaction. It’s also worth considering how you could incorporate more social activities into your work schedule. Setting aside a half hour for an in-office “happy hour” every week, along with a few longer events over the course of the year, can help employees develop friendships with each other more easily.
Employees who need treatment for stress-related problems may not seek it if they feel that doing so will force them to spend less time at work. While that may be true, it’s important for employees to know the company wants them to address their needs. That could involve allowing employees to attend weekly therapy sessions and make up their hours by staying late or arriving early. Most importantly, managers need to communicate these points to their employees. You don’t just want to let employees take the steps they need to receive proper treatment; you also want to be certain they know you want them to take those steps.
It’s worth noting this tactic may not be applicable in all situations. An HR professional should feel they have a comfortable, positive relationship with managers and executives at the company before applying this strategy.
That said, if you do feel comfortable speaking about these issues with your manager, you may want to encourage them to discuss their own struggles if doing so is appropriate. You shouldn’t encourage them to discuss the topic all of the time, though. However, letting them know that they might consider speaking about their personal difficulties with employees may cause some of them to be more open about the subject.
This will help to reduce the stigma sometimes associated with depression in the workplace. Employees who could benefit from treatment may not pursue it if they feel others at the company will have a different impression of them if they found out they were struggling with such issues. Reduce stigma, and they’ll be more inclined to get the treatment they need.
Again, work trends indicate it is particularly important now to consider how your organization can support employees’ well-being. You don’t want your employees to endure health problems because their jobs are causing excessive stress. By applying these tips, you’ll boost their odds of staying healthy and happy. This will also benefit the company financially in the form of improved engagement and retention.