Human Resource Outsourcing

Prioritizing Employee Well-being and Mental Health: HR’s Vital Role

The Gallup State of the Global Workplace: 2023 Report states that globally, 44% of workers reported feeling highly stressed at work, and 59% were considering quiet-quitting. These numbers highlight the pressing need for organisations to improve their efforts to boost employee mental health and well-being. The isolation, homeschooling, health worries, and blending of work and home during the pandemic brought the mental health crisis to the forefront. Organisations became aware of their employees' struggles and consequent burnout.

Role of HR in employee well-being

Well-being is no longer viewed as a perk. The Human Resources (HR) function is actively involved in meaningful ways to connect and support employees with their mental health needs and well-being. Employee well-being is not just about physical wellness, it is a more holistic approach that includes the employee’s physical, emotional, financial, social and motivational aspects.

  • Work-life support is one of the top requirements listed by employees. Central to achieving all-round wellness is flexibility in work location and time. When an organisation provides flexible hours and work-from-home options, they demonstrate that work is about delivering results rather than registering physical presence. Mandating the location or style of working can lower engagement and impact work quality drastically.
  • HR should promote sustainable work, which involves granting control over the working day, allowing employees to have predictability and enough recharge time. Offering this level of autonomy can boost motivation and emotional well-being.
  • HR needs to take a personalised approach over a one-size-fits-all approach when addressing issues such as childcare needs or workaholic tendencies. Inclusive flexibility involves helping employees communicate their needs and setting their boundaries.

Why do employees delay seeking help for mental health issues?

HR and mental health programs for employees should prioritise addressing the stigma associated with mental illness. Most employees with mental health issues delay or avoid seeking help due to a variety of considerations, including lack of awareness, shame, cultural stigma and worry about colleagues' reactions.

Distrust of the intervention process, especially the possible lack of discretion and confidentiality, negative impact on career and loss of status, is another significant factor in refraining from getting help. Sometimes, the general perception that disclosing the problem is of little use and irrelevant is the barrier preventing individuals from seeking treatment.

What can help?

The challenges posed by the pandemic, to some extent, helped normalise mental health problems. Overwhelming mental stress was universally felt during that period but to make a dent in the associated stigma, people in power need to openly share experiences and disclose their own mental health difficulties.

HR should have a deliberate plan of action to cultivate an environment where employees can discuss mental health issues without fear of judgement and seek help. Active listening, initiation of conversations, and confidential and trustworthy reporting make employees feel secure about seeking support. However, organisations should go beyond enabling support mechanisms to check and prevent behaviours that promote suppression of problems and aggravate mental health issues.

Effective mental health programs

Impactful mental health programs are not limited to random, isolated events. They are comprehensive and address employee well-being holistically. HR should craft customised and personalised employee programs by coordinating with managers, mental health specialists, and wellness experts.

  • Employee assistance programs (EAP) are HR-run initiatives that consist of counselling sessions and other resources to tackle challenges at work and home.
  • Another option is to have in-house mental health professionals or on-call to provide support as and when needed.
  • Mental health days should be made paid time off, allowing employees to recharge emotionally and mentally.
  • Organisations can also invest in stress management, resilience-building, yoga, and meditation workshops. Conducting mental health training for everyone helps in the early identification of stress and burnout.
  • Regular wellness check-ins of direct reports by managers can help in the timely detection of mental illness. Employees can be provided free subscriptions to self-help content and AI-powered apps that allow them to be better informed and aware of their mental health.
  • Managers have a vital role in preventing and identifying mental health issues. They should be sensitised enough to identify and censure behaviours that cause stress, reprimand discriminatory behaviour and foster supportive interactions.
  • HR must create awareness about mental health and wellness interventions through media campaigns, company social events and buddy systems. HR should consistently monitor and report mental health KPIs and evaluate the effectiveness of mental health and wellness interventions.
  • Employee reluctance to participate in programs should be overcome through destigmatisation, open communication and assurance of confidentiality.

Mental well-being has a profound impact on organisational productivity and growth. It is imperative that HR designs workplace policies and interventions with care and aim to create a psychologically secure environment that nurtures and supports employees to be their best.

How can Infosys BPM help?

Infosys BPM’s Human Resources Outsourcing services deliver robust, flexible and integrated solutions. Our HR outsourcing, technology and consulting practices collaborate to create end-to-end value for businesses, from talent sourcing to engagement and retention. We use a transformation-driven approach to build a customised roadmap that helps our clients achieve their business objectives such as enhancing employee experience and achieving operational excellence

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