Managing people

How to go the extra mile when supporting employee mental health

With many people working remotely, under financial strain or having to adapt to major changes in the workplace, our mental health has been tested to the full.

5 March 2024

So with our work and personal lives becoming increasingly entwined, employers’ responsibility to do right by their employees has never been greater. Here are some non-conventional ways you can support your teams’ mental wellbeing.

Employee assistance programs

An employee assistance program (EAP) is a confidential counselling service offered by employers to help employees work through work-related or personal issues. They can also extend to managers or supervisors who are supporting employees going through difficult situations.

An EAP program can provide preventative and proactive interventions for early detection of issues, and identification and resolution of work and personal problems that could adversely affect mental wellbeing and, ultimately, performance.

Employee mental wellness programs

Employee mental wellness programs aim to inspire employees to make small changes in their daily routines to help them find balance, feel good and be productive.

From a business perspective, they are also a great way to build a positive company culture, attract quality employees and keep them.

You can often choose from a number of programs and therapies, such as:

Free or discounted access to a gym or program of online classes is something a business might offer their employees, encouraging them to meet their fitness goals and improve their overall wellbeing.

Whether onsite in the office or a voucher if your employees are working remotely, massage therapy can work wonders for improving relaxation and mental wellness.

Yoga and meditation are common additions to employee wellness programs. If your staff are onsite, free up a meeting room a couple of times per week for a class or arrange for online classes for remote workers.

You can help your employees enjoy the benefits of healthy eating by ensuring they have adequate lunch and snack breaks – even better if you can occasionally provide those healthy eating options for them. You could even create a private social channel where people can share recipes and healthy food options close to the office.

Discounts can help boost employee morale as well as the local economy, and can act as an incentive for team collaboration and individual performance.

Fostering connection

With so many still working remotely, it’s difficult for employees to feel connected, which is crucial for mental wellbeing. Monthly games of golf or social gatherings might not be possible everywhere right now, but even a Friday afternoon video call is a small gesture to help bring employees together to share thoughts on their week.

Volunteer days that encourage employees to get involved in environmental projects or community charities is another great way for them to share experiences with co-workers and feel good.

Rest and relaxation

Juggling work at home with childcare, chores and home-schooling can wreak havoc on employee mental health. Keeping communication lines open with your employees is crucial, particularly in trying times. Can you lighten their workload or offer more flexible working hours?

Some businesses, like Who Gives A Crap, have gone so far as to gift paid mental health days to give their employees a break, while other progressive businesses promote the idea of a power nap to help employees stay refreshed.

Let employees take the lead

A lot of people already know what they need to care for their own mental health and wellbeing, so ask your employees to take the lead. A simple questionnaire can encourage them to consider different aspects of their lives and create their own personal goals for change, which they can choose to keep confidential or share with others.

Going above and beyond what employees expect is a great way to encourage reciprocal effort. An investment in your employees is an investment in your workplace, so creating a space where they feel confident to be open about their mental wellbeing can support the all-round long-term health of your business.

Looking for more information on health and safety? My Business Workplace has a library with more than 170 documents to ensure you’re compliant with workplace legislation. 

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