Employee mental health deteriorated as a result of the pandemic. In fact, a recent survey showed only half (52%) of employees would describe their mental health as good, compared to 66% in early 2020, showing a 14% drop since the pandemic.
As a result, we’ve seen many businesses quickly introduce new policies and technologies to try and combat the effects that the pandemic has had on employee wellbeing. However, while it’s important businesses act quickly to help their employees, they should take stock to ensure they’re bringing in the right tools and initiatives that are fit for purpose and will actually make a tangible difference.
Having the wrong solutions in place has the potential to act as a barrier for employees wanting to access proper mental health aid. Instead, businesses should take these three simple steps to provide the best possible care for employees’ mental wellbeing.
The ability to choose
Businesses should look to offer a wide range of services, such as therapy, counselling, or mindfulness and life coaching. This means employees can figure out what approach works best for them – after all – there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer. Although, typically solution providers offer just one or two of these services, which leaves many employees out in the cold. Technology which brings together all of these services into one place is out there, HR leaders just need to go out and find the right ones for their business.
A key benefit of multiple initiatives is that by having all solutions in one place, there will be clear signposting to all forms of help, so employees can stay up to date on everything that is on offer and can start accessing them immediately.
Plus, by keeping all services in one place, HR will have the headspace they need to focus on ensuring they have the best options to hand and maintaining the offering for employees. HR leaders can work with employees to give them the support they need, rather than spending hours organising activities which might not be relevant to their workforce.
Changing the way we pay
Businesses should also look at where they are getting their services from and how they’re paying for them. Most businesses offer the standard Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), which have set services on offer to each employee, meaning everyone receives the same mental health support. EAPs charge a flat monthly rate, so the amount being spent a month by the business does not change if employee’s mental health starts to improve and they use the service less. Not only does this give no opportunity for measuring success within the business, but gives no incentive for business leaders to invest in mental health, as they will be spending the money regardless of the state of their employee’s mental wellbeing.
Instead, companies should look out for offerings that operate on a billable hours model, whereupon the HR leaders are only charged for the time employees actually spend using the service. This way they can see how much uptake the service has initially, and advertise the service further if needed. This method also acts as a motivator, keeping employers engaged in the process and wanting to continue to invest – as they know the services are working. Recent research from Deloitte showed that the average return for employers who enact these types of mental health support is £5.30 gained for every £1 spent, a clear success indicator for business leaders.
No more barriers
Businesses need to truly understand the services and technologies they are offering their employees if they are to best help their teams. And this starts with recognising that there will never be a one size fits all approach to mental wellbeing – mental health affects people in many different ways.
With this in mind, the solution businesses choose to bring in needs to be designed with a conscious effort to remove barriers. This means no confusing application downloads, and no need for direct contact with HR or management teams when looking for support. Instead, employees should be greeted with a range of relevant functions that enable them to choose the best type of treatment for their needs, on their terms.
Employers will know they have brought in the right wellbeing services because they will not only be built for use by all employees, but they will actively motivate senior management to invest in employee mental health. Having incorrect or inadequate services in place only acts to hinder the employee and is a waste of HR time and resources.