What EHS Professionals Can't See: Workplace Mental Health Risks

May 17, 2019 Emma Swan

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, an annual campaign that aims to end stigma and promote mental health and well-being for all. As EHS professionals, this is a good time to pause and reflect on our current programs and consider what we can do to ensure we’re not just protecting our employees from traditional workplace hazards like slips, trips, and falls – but also hazards that aren’t visible – like drug abuse, depression, and sleep disorders, to name a few. 

Employees dealing with these issues at work may not show obvious signs – so what can you do to address these challenges and mitigate risk?

To help answer this question and outline how to build a more supportive workplace culture and a holistic wellness program, we recently hosted a webinar with IOSH Vice President Jonathan Hughes, Workplace Wellness: Health Beyond Traditional Hazards.
 

Let's take a look at some of the key takeaways from the webinar:

Five Steps to Running a Wellness Program (And How Technology Can Help)

1. Understand Your Employee's Risk

A good place to start is to get an understanding of the types of non-traditional risks and challenges your employees are facing by conducting regular surveys. By leveraging software, you can send surveys to employees, collect and analyze their responses in real-time, and gain valuable insight into how you can improve your programs. The key here is to ensure responses are anonymized in order to protect your employees’ privacy, as we know this is crucial when it comes to mental health and wellness programs. Then, use the results from your survey to create a baseline for your program so you can compare going forward the successes and identify areas for improvement.

2. Promote Your Program

After creating a baseline and finding out what your employees are looking for – you are now able to adapt and tailor your program. Studies in the UK have pointed towards the importance of leaders playing a fundamental role in the promotion of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). The commitment to worker well-being from the top-down, in addition to actively promoting available services across the organization, can drastically change how aware employees are of services and resources available to them. By educating our team members and getting leadership directly involved, the taboos and silos begin to break down and employees can start to see the value placed on wellness in your workplace.

3. Ensure Effective Training and Communication

Effective implementation and execution of an EAP starts and ends with communication. We have the capacity with technology to create online training and knowledge bases that are incredible tools for us. In order to make your team members aware of the supports and services they have, we need to communicate to employees the options available. Here are just a few of the benefits we can realize from using technology to bolster our wellness program training and communication plan:

  • Automatically notify employees of upcoming educational courses
  • Track team members’ completion rates of program courses
  • Tailor communication around resources and educational opportunities for specific groups of employees
  • Goal-oriented programs and rewards for successful employees
  • Opt-in-only option for employees in order to ensure they have control over their privacy and choice

4. Manage and Mitigate Employee Absences

Did you know that sick leave costs companies 7.78% of yearly wages from presenteeism or absenteeism? These numbers are only going to get bigger as mental health issues rise. With the help of Occupational Health software, you can easily manage employee absences by integrating their individual case including all their personal data. A case manager is then able to get a 360-degree view so they can make better, more effective decisions.

5. Analyze Your Results for Continuous Improvement

At the end of the day, you’re going to be left with a ton of pertinent data to help you move your organization in the right direction. You can utilize this data to get a holistic picture of where your organization stands with benchmark analytics to compare with future case scenarios. You can see how employee health has changed over time, what the stress levels are, and what you can do to adapt and help your employees.

Learn More

One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. Look around – how many people is that on your team alone, let alone your organization as a whole?  The impact of mental health issues is omnipresent and growing, as poor mental health costs employers in the UK up to £42 billion in sick-pay. By leveraging technology to support your employee assistance and wellness programs, you can quickly react to situations, streamline processes and overall reduce the risk to your team members.

For more information about how to proactively integrate and manage employee wellness programs, watch our webinar Workplace Wellness: Health Hazards Beyond Traditional Hazards.

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