Learn why you should acknowledge your employees’ mental health, and the steps you can take to support them.
If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that our mental health should be a higher priority. We know that stress, anxiety, and other issues were all feelings people experienced before the pandemic started in 2020. But after 2 years of fear, shutdowns, surges, and variants, many have realized that we cannot continue to ignore the support and care we need.
It should not take a global health crisis for mental health days to be acceptable. With that said, we encourage you to consider offering mental health days to people in your organization. Honor their needs by acknowledging the importance of their mental health and taking steps to support them. It could very well take your company to the next level in some surprising ways.
Confused about why or how you can offer mental health days to your employees? We’ve got a list for that.
1. Opens conversations about mental health
Help them feel comfortable about disclosing whether they are at mentally (while still respecting their privacy) and ask them how you can help.
One of the best ways you can help combat the stigmas surrounding mental health is by talking about it. Let people know that it is okay to struggle and that you are there to help them get the support they need.
Fostering an internal culture that isn’t weird about mental health issues starts with allowing people to take days off to care for themselves. Help them feel comfortable about disclosing whether they are at mentally (while still respecting their privacy) and ask them how you can help. “How can I support you?” is an incredibly powerful question that more employers need to ask.
2. Combats burnout
The only real way to interrupt burnout is by interrupting the cycle that is perpetuating that exhaustion. Mental health issues can interact with burnout in insidious ways. That is where a few mental health days can come into play.
Without this interruption, the burnout will build and likely lead to either missed work days or employee turnover. You do not want it to get to this point. You want to make sure your employees know they have the option to take time off to recover and recharge.
The level of depletion we’re talking about here is acutely stressful for both the employee enduring it and the people who may have to step in to help while this person is away. It affects more than just 1 or even 2 people.
This is part of the reason why you ideally want your employees to ask for time off before the burnout becomes unmanageable and unbearable. That way, you are preventing them from completely shutting down and collapsing from severe burnout.
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3. Increases morale
It is simple: Employees will be more driven and more excited to work for companies that treat them better. Honor them as human beings who have thoughts, fears, and struggles that extend beyond the workplace. Novel concept, right?
Offering mental health days helps improve morale because it shows your workers that you are willing to meet them halfway (or more than halfway if they are depleted and their capacity is low).
Establish your organization as one that takes mental health issues seriously and has relevant offers and programs available for employees who need them.
4. Boosts productivity
This tip ties in closely with the previous entry. When an employee is struggling with a mental health-related problem, they are more likely to become less productive. The data supports this. It checks out logically, too. These struggles make it significantly more difficult to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, everyday functions can feel like insurmountable peaks.
Mental health days can help your employees address their lowest lows and come back feeling more confident, more inspired, and ready to give it their all. Sometimes, all they need to know is that someone will be there to catch them if they stumble or fall.
Mental health days can help your employees address their lowest lows and come back feeling more confident, more inspired, and ready to give it their all.
5. Prevents and reduces sick days
Here is another really big one. Offering mental health days can actually prevent sick day in the long or short term. Many people experience stress on a physical level, meaning that whatever is causing them stress or discomfort mentally can actually become a physical issue.
It’s in no one’s best interests to have chronically sick employees. That is why it is important to let your employees know you care about their mental health as much as you care about their physical health.
6. Increases staff retention
If your company struggles with high employee turnover, it’s definitely worth trying to figure out why. One of the things you can look at is what specific reasons are behind people leaving.
- Are they feeling way too stressed or overworked?
- Are they punished harshly for being a tad late or struggling to stay productive?
- Is your company a safe place for them to air concerns, express frustrations, and verbalize how stressed and tired they are?
- Do they have the support they need?
These are all things to look into and consider. These are also problems that offering mental health days can help you mitigate or even eliminate. A company that helps support its employees by offering mental health days is an organization that is far more likely to retain employees. Always remember to stay compassionate.
7. Creates a more robust health insurance package
Offering a health insurance package that accounts for and includes mental health support is extremely important. It is also more attractive to prospective employees and can bring in a higher caliber of talent. This allows you to craft more enticing offers for top-tier candidates.
Most of the time, though, these offerings can feel pretty vague. With that in mind, you may be asking, “What do you mean by that? What does ‘mental health support’ actually mean?” Well, it can mean a number of things. Access to therapy or counseling is a common offer that ensures mental health support.
8. Improves overall reputation
An organization with a reputation for treating its employees well and accounting for their mental health is an organization that will earn respect both inside and outside of its headquarters.
This may go without saying, but you absolutely want this kind of reputation. You want people to look at your company and admire the steps you have taken to care for the people who work for you. You want to be known as an employer who views your employees as human beings and not just cogs in a machine. It’s crucial to care for your workers, and you want your workers to recognize and feel that you care.
Depending on where your organization is at policy wise, this may create a ton of work you didn’t intend on doing. However, it is incredibly important work that can have many far-reaching benefits for you, your brand, and the people who help make your company what it is.
COVID has helped shine a light on mental health issues in the workplace. It has helped employers realize the large number of people who suffer from mental health problems but do not feel safe enough to ask for support theyacknowledging the importance of their mental health and taking steps to support them need. Many industries still have quite a ways to go before the stigmas surrounding mental health are properly broken, but many companies are on the right track.