How Your HR Department Can Improve Employee Mental Health

Roughly 9 in 10 employees identify stress as a negative influence on their mental health. The same source finds that 60% of these same employees are not receiving the help they need to adequately address mental health concerns.

Whether you’re answering emails, assembling products, or delegating tasks to employees, work can prove to be a stress-inducing atmosphere. Fortunately, a well-oriented human resources (HR) department can help employees at all levels deal with these and other issues appropriately.

No matter the size of your business, the strategies below can help fortify employee mental health.

Steps to Improve In-office Employee Mental Wellbeing

With the right programs in place, any HR department can help employees address their mental health challenges. HR representatives will implement these strategies to foster a person-first mentality in the workplace, where employee mental health issues are prioritized and heard.

Implement Flexible Scheduling

Flexible scheduling can help all employees maintain a favorable work/life balance. Employers who adopt flexible scheduling models can set deadlines for employees, and require only that work is accomplished by those deadlines. Employees are free to work the hours they choose, so long as projects are completed on time.

HR departments are sometimes hesitant to use a flexible scheduling model for employees, because they fear it will lead to a lack of accountability among employees. When deployed correctly, time tracking tools can help businesses save time, preserve finances, and even avoid fraud.

From a single, free mobile application, HR departments can help employees manage their time on and off the clock. The same platform also allows human resources agents to coordinate employee PTO, set shift schedules, and obtain digital signatures from employees.

Integrate Employee Feedback

Companies looking to prioritize employee mental health should ensure that employee opinions and suggestions are heard, considered, and implemented when valid.

HR departments can collect and assess employee feedback in a variety of ways. These methods can include:

  • Suggestions boxes where employees can leave feedback anonymously;
  • Team meetings dedicated solely to employee opinions, impressions, and feedback;
  • Individual meetings between employees and HR department representatives, where employees are free to share thoughts in a private, non-judgmental setting;
  • Online portals or platforms dedicated to registering employee feedback.

Employees who feel heard may feel more comfortable trusting their company leadership. Alternatively, employees who feel unheard are oftentimes more likely to make their opinions known across other channels — including social media — which can create difficult situations for employees, HR departments, and employers.

Improve Benefits

There’s more to an employee’s benefits package than a salary. Benefits do more than help employees cover medical expenses; they also help to remind employees that they are appreciated by their employer.

Though it can be tempting for an HR department to offer minimal benefits to employees — especially as a cost-cutting measure — improved benefits packages can, directly and indirectly, improve an employee’s wellbeing.

Employee assistance programs (EAPs) can also serve as an affordable option to help employees address mental health challenges, offering services that include family therapy, substance use treatment, and financial asset management.

Employees with partially or fully covered mental health services will be more likely to pursue counseling, therapy, and treatment whenever necessary. Those same employees are then less likely to adversely affect the productivity, output, or overall morale of the workplace.

Administer Mental Health Training

Mental health training teaches employees about common mental health concerns that may arise in the workplace. This training, administered by a company’s HR department, offers a safe environment where employees can learn and ask questions about simple and complex mental health issues.

When employees gather for mental health training, they take time away from their desks and their typical work schedules to make mental health a priority. Even if these training sessions last only for a day or two, they help to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace. At the same time, employees learn how to recognize and guard against a variety of mental health issues, including trauma, PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

Appropriately Discipline Employees

HR departments are responsible for hiring new employees and equipping current employees with the tools they need to succeed. When necessary, HR departments also handle employee discipline and release. Appropriate employee disciplinary measures can also help support mental health in the workplace.

According to OSHA, more than two million employees are victims of workplace violence each year. HR departments can help eliminate the possibility of workplace violence, and other workplace conflicts, simply by administering discipline before issues escalate.

Ultimately, your company’s HR department works to promote a unified workforce, where employees work together to accomplish shared goals. Disciplining employees who lose sight of these goals — and parting ways with employees when necessary — can help preserve the mental health of all employees dedicated to the company’s vision.

Brighten the Workspace

Even small changes to a company’s working conditions can improve employee mental health. Employees who spend a large amount of time at a desk, or in a stationary position, will particularly enjoy a workspace that’s more than a computer and four walls.

HR departments can diversify a working environment in a variety of different ways. These can include:

  • Adding plants into the workspace to make the setting more comfortable and appealing;
  • Enhancing workplace lighting by adding windows, skylights, or natural lamps to allow for as much natural light as possible;
  • Choosing vibrant paints that add complement traditionally white walls with splashes of color;
  • Removing walls, cubicles, or other obstructions to enhance collaboration and conversation in a working environment;
  • Improving employee break spaces with healthy snacks, comfortable seating, and stocked refrigerators.

When a corporate workspace feels more opportunistic and less restrictive, employee mental health stands to benefit. HR departments can help create this type of working environment, whether it’s through a series of new desk plants or paid employee lunches. There’s no price too steep when the reward is strong employee mental health.