Mental Health & The Great Resignation: How HR Can Support Employee Mental Health

Mental health refers to our social, emotional, and psychological well-being. It affects our relationships, how well we cope with daily life stress, and our ability to be psychologically resilient.

While mental health is affected by mental illnesses like major depression or anxiety disorders, it’s so much deeper. True mental health is finding a balance in life that leads to happiness and life satisfaction. It is impacted by biological factors as well as finances and work environment.

In the workplace, diminished mental health shows up as reduced productivity and engagement and increased absences.

So why should employers looking to survive the Great Resignation care? Simple—mental health is just as important as physical health. It affects all ages, races, ethnicities, and genders. In fact, many employees attributed mental health reasons as a primary driver behind leaving the workforce during the great resignation. Companies that overlook this fact are more likely to have high turnover rates, high levels of stress, and a lack of harmony among teams.

In this article, you’ll discover key steps you can take with HR to provide mental health support to your team.

Help employees manage stress

Supporting employee mental health is crucial to maintaining a thriving team. Employees that feel supported during stressful periods are more likely to stay with a company longer than those that don’t.

So, one way to support employees is to help them manage stress. This helps them find greater balance in their lives and see your workplace as an asset. Try these tips below:

  • Encourage breaks during the workday

  • Encourage time off for family

  • Suggest that employees take up hobbies outside of work

  • Listen to and share music when appropriate during the workday

  • Be upfront about changes to policies and incorporate employee concerns

It’s not just about a mental health day

Offering a mental health day is more of a bandaid than a solution. Time off is great but if the work environment remains the same, then mental health problems persist. Many people are leaving jobs, not because of a lack of PTO but because of a lack of flexibility during the day-to-day grind. This lack of flexibility often leads to an inability to take the necessary time off for self-care.

During the great resignation, many are weighing the benefits of returning to a work environment they didn’t enjoy. Instead of just putting a new name on an old idea, try to support employees with policies like:

  • Flexible communication via text, email, virtual calls, or work platforms

  • Investing in diversity and inclusion measures

  • Flexible work schedules and locations

  • On-going training or education in their field

  • Bonus holidays (ex. close the business at the end of busy periods)

Promote the mental health support you offer

There has long since been a stigma around seeking care for mental health struggles. For this reason, services to support employee well-being go widely unused. Employees are either confused about the support you offer or don’t trust information will be kept confidential.

As a leader, you can help employees feel more comfortable and less isolated by making these conversations a regular part of business. That can be via a newsletter, a company-wide email, or mentioning your offers at monthly meetings.

Mental health is as important as physical health. And like physical health, it changes over time and requires regular care.

It’s essential that employees also understand anything they share regarding mental health remains confidential. If you are a small business owner, outsourcing your HR could provide needed support for legal and/or sensitive topics.

Manage your own mental health

Continuing to grow as a leader in your business means taking care of your physical and mental health as well. Employees model the behavior of their manager. If you exhibit signs of declining mental health or dismiss seeking help, you inadvertently perpetuate the stigma. As a result, employees will fear being punished for seeking support.

Balancing the management of employees and a business is hard to do alone. You can lose sleep, take on undue stress, and stop looking after your basic needs. This is unsustainable and can lead to a decline in business success. It can also lead to mental illness disorders such as major depression, anxiety, and more. Hence, remembering that taking care of yourself is taking care of your business.

Know when (or when not) to let someone go

Navigating problem employees is a part of managing your business. And it’s as important to employee morale as fostering a positive work environment. When one member of your team isn’t performing, or actively undermining the rest of the team, the entire team suffers.

However, terminating an employee with mental illness is a thorny subject. To be clear, you legally cannot fire an employee for mental health reasons. However, an employee can be disruptive, combative, and undermining your authority and also have mental health struggles. And this may be cause for termination.

If you have an employee that exhibits the red flags, follow these steps:

  • Ensure you are adhering to ADA guidelines

  • Document everything

  • Provide regular feedback

  • Ensure there are no barriers to providing accommodations

Seek HR or legal support before terminating. When it’s finally time for the ‘termination’ conversation, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to the employee.

Supporting Employee Mental Health

Supporting employee mental health comes down to 5 things for small business owners:

  1. Helping employees manage stress

  2. Tackling the workplace causes over the symptoms

  3. Having open conversations that stress mental health

  4. Managing your mental health as a leader

  5. Navigating problem employees

Navigating conversations around employee mental wellness can be confusing. But it doesn’t have to be. At HR TailorMade we help small business owners by administering benefits, providing resources, and policy creation so both you and your team feel supported. Check out our list of services today.