The modern-day workplace is facing a bit of a crisis. Workplace stress is shockingly high. According to a 2022 Gallup report, 44% of employees reported daily work-related stress. This is a dramatic increase from 2014 when only 33% of employees reported daily stress. Although some may point toward the COVID-19 pandemic as the main cause behind these stressors, the cause matters not. It only matters how businesses react to this stress, as some are still struggling to find workers in a post-pandemic world.
Today’s overly-stressed employees want (and need) jobs that will help them make mental health a priority. By showing your employees that you care about their overall health, you’ll improve productivity, boost morale, and create a work environment people are drawn to.
As an HR professional, making mental health the forefront of your recruitment strategy will help you attract top talent while retaining current employees and promoting a healthy workplace.
Let’s look at a few practices and policy changes related to mental health that can make a big difference in the effectiveness of your recruitment strategy.
What Employees Want
Having a standard benefits package in place will always be important. The more competitive the packages, the better. However, you’ll attract a larger pool of talent if you offer benefits that employees are looking for — ones that go beyond monetary value.
Because the average worker is dealing with so much stress, benefits that promote wellness are in high demand. That includes things like:
- Paid time off;
- Flexible work arrangements;
- Childcare assistance;
- Gym memberships or wellness programs.
At their core, these benefits are integral in the everyday wellness of employees. After all, they won’t be able to focus on their work if they’re worried about their own physical needs or who is going to take care of their kids if they can’t pick them up in time.
You also don’t necessarily need to advertise all of those things as part of a benefits package. Rather, use them as a sort of “marketing tool” to show off your business. You should be proud of prioritizing the mental health of your team, so don’t be afraid to show off everything you offer and let people come to you.
If you’re not exactly sure what your employees want or what they might value most, ask them. Employee feedback is a great way to increase engagement and let your team know you value their needs and wants.
Why Mental Health is Important in the Workplace
If you’re still not sure why mental health promotion should be such a big deal, consider how it impacts your business. First, a person’s work environment can impact their overall well-being. If you have a toxic environment that doesn’t support mental health, your employees could start to struggle with too much stress, anxiety, depression, and more. Keep in mind that you don’t know what they’re already dealing with in their personal lives.
When an employee is struggling with their mental health, their productivity and motivation will suffer as well. They’re more likely to get burnt out, have fewer creative ideas or opinions, and might even end up physically sick. When that happens, they’ll start missing days of work to heal and recuperate, which takes even more time and focus away from their job.
A workplace that promotes mental wellness and has policies in place to foster it is attractive for a reason. Healthy workplace environments help to:
- Decrease the risk of burnout;
- Improve productivity and performance;
- Deflate social challenges;
- Improve retention.
Not only are today’s workers looking for mental health support, but they’re expecting it. When you’re trying to recruit candidates for a position, showcasing different mental health practices won’t just tell them that you have a top-quality work environment. Rather, it will speak volumes to your candidates about how they’ll fit in and what they can expect.
Practices to Put in Place
To incorporate mental health intentions in your workplace, you must look toward your employees again. There are plenty of ways to start small and make a big difference, including implementing an employee wellness program that includes stress management, gym memberships or classes, and providing access to mental health resources. You can also hold classes in the workplace, whether it’s after hours or as a mid-day “break”. You might be surprised how much 30 minutes of yoga can improve someone’s mood and lower their stress.
It’s also worthwhile to connect with local therapists, counselors, and other mental health professionals. Developing a relationship with them means your employees can utilize their services as needed.
For example, psychiatrists can be helpful for people struggling with their mental health. If one of your employees is handling mental health struggles, they might not know how to get connected with a professional. Providing one in the workplace that can meet employee needs will go a long way in helping them manage their well-being sooner. That’s the kind of personal care and attention that will not only keep your current employees happy, but will attract new ones.
If you’re not already prioritizing mental health in the workplace, it’s never too late to start. Ask your employees for feedback, take a look at current hiring trends and how employee wellness programs are taking shape, and determine the best rote for your business. By pushing for better mental health services, you’ll be doing every current and future employee a huge favor, and your business will benefit from it.