According to the non-profit organization Mind Share Partners, which conducted a study with Qualitrics and SAP, the mental health of around 42% of participants declined since the pandemic began. This is a result of the structural changes that COVID-19 caused in the workforce. As a result, for example, countless people were instructed to work from home. And 44% of them experienced a decline in mental health.
Employee assistance programs, which are offered by many companies in the United States, have existed for many years. And before the pandemic began, employers were starting to pay attention to the mental health of their employees. But the pandemic has demonstrated that more needs to be done. And this is where management can play an important role.
Prior to the pandemic, Roche Genentech, a biotech firm, became viral when its leaders started talking about their own mental health. In fact, the company’s business leaders trained a group of employees on the subject of mental health awareness. Suddenly, remote workers were also participating and making videos of themselves. Business leaders who talk about their daily challenges appeal more to their workers. Employees like to feel a sense of community. Simultaneously, managers that talk about their habits have more of an impact.
This is why flexibility is important. And in these challenging times, it is important to be both proactive and inclusive. While direct reports are important, it is also necessary to be aware of possible transitions and changes. For instance, some employees have children. Perhaps, single parents should be provided with different schedules. A mother that can create her own schedule could be more productive.
As for business leaders, they can create bigger impacts. For years, senior leaders of Verizon have been focusing on work culture. They have trained managers and leaders in workplace mental health. The focus was also on prevention. A healthy workforce is less predisposed in suffering from absenteeism. Also, it is important to communicate to employees about the resources that they have available. According to a study, around 46% of employees were not informed about their mental health resources. Also, some employees may not utilize their benefits because of a social stigma. This is why it is important to normalize the services through communication.