Every year in the United States, one in five adults will experience mental illness. However, only one in three who need help will get it. Sadly, this can mean many missed days from work or a less than productive work atmosphere, which is also referred to as presenteeism.
Presenteeism is the act of employees continuing to work as a performative measure, despite having a reduced productivity level. As a result, when employees struggle with mental or physical health problems, their work often suffers. That is why workplace mental health is so vital for a company's bottom line.
Worse yet, recent studies have indicated that almost 42% of global employees have experienced a decline in mental health since the pandemic began. If mental health was an important topic before, it should be high on the employer's radar today.
For these reasons, we will dive into the topic of the employer’s responsibility in mental health, how employers can help workers who may be struggling, and ultimately how offering a robust EAP can be the solution they need.
MENTAL HEALTH AND THE ADA
In the workplace, an employee's primary protection against workplace discrimination and harassment due to a disability is based on the ADA.
WHAT IS THE ADA?
The ADA or the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of their public life, including schools, jobs, transportation, and all public and private places open to the general public. The purpose of this regulation is to make sure that every individual with a disability has the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
MENTAL HEALTH AND HOW THE ADA APPLIES
According to the ADA regulations, a disability is considered any of the following:
- When a person has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, including basic tasks such as walking, eating, caring for themselves, regulating emotions, concentrating, thinking, sleeping, and communicating with others
- Having a record of such an impairment
- Or being considered as having this impairment
Yet, even if an employee has a recognized ADA disability, they must also be "otherwise qualified" for the job to be protected under this law. This means that the worker will need the necessary education, experience, and skill to perform the work, with or without reasonable accommodation.
MENTAL HEALTH IN THE WORKPLACE
Even during these uncertain times, the role of an executive or a manager will remain the same — to support their team and employees. This means that these managers are also there to support their team's mental health. Fortunately, there are many tools that managers can use today to encourage positive mental health at their place of business.
If you’re an employer looking to improve mental health throughout your organization, consider these four tactics.
Intentionally checking in with your team members and employees is incredibly important to support a worker's emotional well-being. This also gives your employees a voice and lets them know that their input matters to the company's overall success. Plus, it allows workers to feel respected, especially when they are going through a hard time or struggling emotionally.
That is why executives must put their egos aside and do what is truly best for the people who make the company what it is and reach out to them. This includes going beyond a simple "how are you?" and really listening to them, encouraging questions and concerns, and getting to the root of the support that an employee needs.
Work-life integration is different from work-life balance, which has become an overused buzzword. Instead, work-life integration refers to genuinely integrating your work life and your personal life to make your days fulfilling. What does this mean exactly? Work is a part of your life, so you should treat it that way by integrating it into other aspects of daily life that bring you the most joy, not separating it completely.
For instance, you should consider getting rid of the 9-5 grind and giving your employees autonomy on when and where they work. Being this accommodating does not necessarily mean you will have to lower your standards.
In fact, flexibility can help your team thrive because as long as results are met, schedules should not matter as much. This will also allow your team's creativity to flourish, personal goals to be achieved, and ultimately will result in better work productivity.
Sometimes the best way to provide your employees the help they need is to understand who they are and what makes them tick. Thankfully, with a simple personality assessment, you can get this information in minutes. For example, Working Genius allows you to pair team members with each other who complement each other’s weaknesses.
So, if there are employees who love portions of their job and hate others, the program will allow you to find people who complement those traits and have them work together, so they become more productive, motivated, and happy.
TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES
Finally, invest in your team by offering them paid training days to learn new skills that interest them and allow them to bring these skills back to your company. This will ultimately result in high-achieving team members who are significantly more productive.
Today more than ever, employees are struggling with their mental health. That is why it is so important that companies take the first steps to debunk many of the common myths around mental health in the workplace, reduce the stigma of those suffering, and build the necessary skills to have productive conversations about mental health at work. Fortunately, with an EAP program, you can get all these results plus so much more.
If you are looking for more information regarding EAP programs and how to incorporate them into your business, contact Employee Recovery today to learn how we can help increase mental health awareness in your organization, build a community, and offer the peer support your company needs.
>> Click here to get more information on everything you need to know about EAP mental health resources.
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