Creating a Mental Health Support System (aka No More Employee Appreciation Pizza Parties...)
It's baffling to me how after everything we've been through over the past few years as a nation and world, there can still be people who don't see the value in putting an emphasis on employee mental health. But the fact of the matter is that by implementing employee mental health programs you stand to retain a stronger workforce, attract more powerful employees, improve your bottom line, and (last but certainly not least) just generally do the right thing.
Some organizations think they're doing great by having pizza parties, giving away branded swag and handing out the occasional gift card. But this is akin to trying to fix a leaky faucet with a band-aid. It's going to work for a little bit, but it's far from a long-term solution. No employee has ever decided to stay at a company because they've really liked all of the cooler bags they get every holiday season. If I'm wrong, let me know in the comments.
If you're in a leadership position and have the opportunity to implement real change for your employees, the benefits can be endless. But you may feel like you don't know where to begin or what would be most effective. Mental health is complicated and there's still a ton of stigma and mystery around it. Some employers may think that by talking about these things they're distracting from the work that needs to be done. By allowing your employees to feel heard and cared for, you stand to develop an ultra-loyal group of individuals who will stay with you through the good times and the bad.
For leaders looking to implement employee mental health programs, here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
"What can my employees tell me about their needs?": We assume we know the whole picture, but we're usually missing something. One of the most important things you can do is hold focus groups or hold one-on-one meetings with your team to get honest feedback on what they need and what they would like support with. If they don't feel comfortable having that conversation with you, delegate this to a team member or bring in an outside team of experts to get the process started. You may be surprised by what you hear and this can be the starting point for whatever type of program you implement.
"How can I create a plan that works and stick with it?": Throwing a bunch of stuff at the wall and seeing what works is one way to set everyone up to fail. There are a lot of strategies and programs that you can use that are research-backed. You want a good investment for your money and time, so don't choose a solution that only does half the job. If you do this right, your investment will pay dividends for years to come!
"How can I continue to support my staff?": Training gets a bad rep. People tend to think of it as either boring or a waste of time, but not all workshops are created equally. Training tends to fail when employers think it will be a quick fix and fail to implement any structure to support it. There needs to be follow-up, either in supervision or through ongoing coaching, in order to support the concepts that are imparted through workshops. Don't expect huge changes after one workshop, that's unreasonable. What kind of structure can you create to support the changes that you're implementing?
"What do I want my outcomes to be?": Thinking about what you'd like your team goals to be can be a helpful way to determine what kind of solution you want to implement. Are you looking to improve retention, boost satisfaction scores, improve client interactions, or reduce workplace conflict? Some combination of all of these? By designating outcome goals, you're giving yourself something to work towards and you'll have the data to support the changes that you've been implementing.
These are just some starter questions for you as you think about how you can support your employees more effectively. When you work with us, these are just a few of the questions that we'll be asking you right off the bat in order to guide our work as we implement a plan. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the process or would like someone with a lot of experience to handle the work for you, BR's got you covered!