Our stressors have levelled up over the past two years – whether it is due to the blurring of lines between work and life or simply because of the worriment surrounding the corona virus itself. Ambiguity and uncertainty plagued the world, and each person had similar yet different stories to tell revolving isolation, financial and job security, changes in work and domestic duties and some have even lost loved ones to the pandemic.
The surge in declining mental wellness has brought the issue under scrutiny, because mental and physical health are of equal gravitas.
While recognising one’s own mental wellbeing takes precedence, our efforts in improving the mental state will never be successful unless the society and culture we are embedded in work in the same tune. This is why our employers should not be discordant with our personal mental health goals, since we spend one-third of our entire life dedicated to pursuing company ones.
Thankfully, many corporations are more aware of the debilitating effects of poor mental health that directly translate to treatment costs and indirectly relate to low productivity.
Stigma still exists with mental health conditions and employees may still be afraid to seek help or admit that they need them, but companies can help ameliorate the situation by incorporating positive practices that aim to destigmatise mental problems, preventing burn-out or encouraging stress-relieving activities.
Kerstine, Marketing Specialist, from Singaprinting comments, “Our company values mental wellness, especially when we are still facing a pandemic which affects each one of us on a different level. We recognise that the well-being of an organisation’s employees is paramount to its success as a business.”
In a research journal detailing organisational best practices supporting mental health in the workplace, the contributors catalogued them into several categories, including:
Nothing is more powerful company culture. A positive organisational culture that supports employees’ mental health empowers staff to pursue or maintain a healthy state of mind. Making it ‘ok’ to talk about mental inadequacies is just like another #metoo movement, driving away stigma and prompting individuals to take action on their own mental health. Bell has an annual Let’s Talk day which has donated more than $100 million to mental health initiatives across Canada to start international dialogues about mental health stigma.
Robust mental health benefits
What are the medical benefits like? Potential employees usually have that question lined up for the HR department during an interview. While dental benefits can be a plus, companies are slowly moving up the ranks on the best-companies-to-work-for list by going the extra but necessary mile – providing mental health benefits. Cockroach Labs partners Spring Health and an Employee Assistance Program to provide free counseling and mental health support to their team.
Mental health resources
Uber partners several Employee Assistance Programmes and Wellbeing platforms their staff to tap on wherever they are. These offers include confidential counselling and access to a library of wellness materials ranging from nutrition to parenting tips.
LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group lets employees use the meditation app Headspace for free and also provide free therapy sessions, as well as legal and financial assistance.
Workplace policies and practices
Singaprinting, a sticker printing company in Singapore, has workplace policies and practices like social gatherings, outside the office activities and coaching and counselling sessions to ensure the employees are heard and valued. Inclusivity is important to the company and they are also careful to watch out for any discrimination or workplace violence incidents. In order to ensure that their employees’ wellbeing is upkept, they also utilise stress management practices that provide employee resources, address organisational issues that may cause stress, and reduce physical and psychosocial stressors in the work environment. “We, at SingaPrinting, ensure employees are taken care of. Stressed or burn-out may not only be about the workplace, there are also external factors that we consider. We talk to our employees so as to offer the right programmes and resources to support them,” contributes Kerstine.
Healthy work environment
A company that values work-life equilibrium will cultivate a healthy work environment. For Juniper Networks, the mantra ‘healthy mind, healthy body’ applies to their efforts in encouraging employees to take advantage of company benefits to get the most out of the time they spend outside work. Employees are urged to take time off for recharging and investing in physical fitness.
Companies can conduct leadership training on mental health awareness, and equip leaders with skills to support employees. The leadership team can then set an exemplary role in providing tools, resources and knowledge to promote a mentally healthy workforce. Experian created a programme called ASPIRE to be Well: Mind | Body | Spirit guide which provides webinars, articles and personal video stories from colleagues on different well-being topics each week.
Employers should be able to recognise the multiple benefits of a positive work environment by now. Increased productivity rates, economic contributions, employer retention, higher quality work, reduced healthcare costs and better working relationships are some of the beneficial consequences companies have experienced after making mental wellness a priority.
Kerstine from Singaprinting adds, “Mental health should be part of the company’s organisational structure. Companies should promote awareness about mental health and stress management at the workplace. We suggest that every company should have established an employee assistance program and talk about it frequently. The benefits are incremental, both for the employers and employee.”
Known as Nate, I am someone who cannot quit wielding the pen or punching the QWERTY, no matter where life brings me. Writing has always been the most effective conduit for channeling my wanted or unwanted opinions since I was an undergraduate at NUS. Naturally, I used this skill as a means of sustenance after working as a writer and editor for many years until I decided to start a business in music. That did not put a halt to my marriage with the vernacular.
In October 2016, I graduated with my Masters in Visual and Media Anthropology, which is the study of cultures through films and photography, at Freie Universität Berlin. This transitory period of residing in two cities has pushed the boundaries of my creativity and my battles with word count have not ceased.
Now a new mode of writing, the academic one, has been added to my existing smorgasbord of corporate and lifestyle collaterals, articles, advertisements, annual reports and books. At the moment, my learning curve is an uphill journey as I attempt to grasp the camera for stills and motion clips, while I juggle that with developing my love affair with my other mode of expression – electronic music.