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How to address mental health in the workplace

Addressing mental health in the workplace is becoming increasingly important – for several reasons. First, employees can’t perform their best when they’re not mentally well. Work also tends to be a primary source of stress for many people, which means that companies have a responsibility to help alleviate some of that burden. Given this, it’s critical for HR teams to prioritise and support the mental health of their workforce. We’ll share ideas to help you accomplish this.

The importance of mental health in the workplace

Before we get into the recommendations, let’s take a closer look at how mental health issues are impacting your employees. According to the 2019 Thriving Workplace Survey National Report, which surveyed over 10,000 Australian workers in a broad range of industries and occupations, 50.6% of the Australian workforce had experienced a mental health condition.

Unfortunately, work was one of the top reasons for these mental health issues – with two in five employees reporting that their workplace either caused their condition or made it worse. This is largely due to factors like high-stress deadlines, unmanageable workloads, and demanding clients. As a result, these work-related mental health conditions cost approximately $543 million in workers compensation and $750 million in life insurance claims paid to Australians.

Despite these pervasive issues, more than half of Australian workers don’t believe their employers have taken any actions to improve their wellbeing. This demonstrates that there’s a clear gap between what employees need to perform their best and what companies are actually doing to support this need. 

Ideas to help employees with mental health at work

If you truly want to address the mental health of your employees, there are various steps you can take as an HR team. Some of these recommendations come in the form of additional benefits, while others are behaviors you can start putting into action today. Choose whichever ideas are the most aligned with the needs of your workforce, and go from there. 

1. Invest in mental health benefits 

Now is a great time to update your benefits package and include offerings that improve emotional wellbeing. For example, we’re partnering with Headspace for Work to support Flare’s customers on their journey to bring mental health programs and wellbeing into their workplaces. Another idea is to cover the cost of counseling sessions or a virtual therapy app for your employees. 

If you have a limited budget and can’t introduce significant programs like this right now, start small. Give employees designated “mental health” days to take time away from work and recharge. Or host a virtual series of employee-led wellness events to guide people through meditation or yoga sessions. There are many creative ways to incorporate more mental-health focused offerings into your employee benefits. 

2. Create a culture of wellness 

Aside from benefits, we encourage organisations to make wellness a foundation of their company culture. What exactly does this mean? This means making work a place where it’s normal and encouraged to be honest about topics related to mental health. There are several ways to achieve this type of culture. 

First, invest in mental health training for the entire company. This will help everyone better navigate conversations about mental health and develop more compassion for those who are struggling. Also, consider introducing safe spaces for employees to discuss their own progress or hardships with their mental wellness – this can be in the form of an Employee Resource Group, Slack channel, or monthly meeting. Finally, encourage your executive team to lead by example. When the CEO is willing to speak openly about a tough topic, it’ll inspire the rest of the organisation to follow suit. 

3. Commit to specific goals 

It may be helpful to identify metrics when it comes to these mental health initiatives. Not only will it help you track progress, but it’ll also hold everyone accountable to these investments. So whether it’s aiming to reduce the stress levels of employees by 10% or having 90% of your employees feel that their mental health is supported at work, commit to specific goals.

From there, you can use regular wellness surveys, employee focus groups, or one-on-one conversations to gauge how your company is progressing. Collecting this type of feedback can also alert you to programs that aren’t performing as they should and give you an opportunity to iterate on them as needed. 

Mental health plays such a huge role when it comes to the overall happiness, performance, and wellbeing of your employees. Don’t overlook this critical aspect of your HR strategy and make sure to introduce initiatives that support the mental health needs of your workfroce. 

If you have any employees who need support, be sure to check out Wellness@Work, a free hub designed to support HR and Australian workers by giving them access to free content.

If you’re looking for an additional HR software to support your business, Flare offers a free onboarding software with employee management and benefits. To learn more, please request a demo.

How HR can help employees with financial wellbeing outside of salary

A lack of financial wellbeing is costing Australian businesses an estimated $31.1 billion in lost revenue every year. But more importantly, it’s negatively impacting the overall health of employees, who are having to take more sick days and struggling to be productive at work as a result of their financial stress.

What can HR teams do to support workers who are having trouble with their finances? Clearly, simply providing employees with a paycheck isn’t enough. In this post, we’ll explore additional ideas to help your workforce achieve better financial health.

How HR can support employee financial wellbeing 

While paying employees a fair salary is an important part of financial wellbeing, there are other components to take into consideration. For instance, even if an employee makes a high salary, a lack of basic money management skills won’t set them up for success in the future. 

That’s why HR needs to find other ways to advocate for the financial wellbeing of their employees – outside of their salary. We encourage HR leaders to work closely with their C-suite and finance teams to support initiatives that can set employees up for success – not only in the present – but also in the future. We share recommendations in the next section. 

Ideas to help employees with financial wellbeing

There are many modern solutions to choose from when it comes to helping employees with their financial wellbeing. We share some of our favorite ideas below: 

1. Encourage savings  

Whether it’s to their superannuation account or a separate retirement account, it’s important to encourage your employees to put aside as much money as possible. There are a few ways to motivate employees to save. One of the most effective ways is to set up a system that allows workers to automatically take a portion of their paycheck and deposit it into their savings accounts. This way, your employees don’t have to make the challenging decision to manually take money out of their paycheck – it just goes into their savings without them noticing and will accumulate over time. 

The benefits: 

  • Sets employees up for success in the future
  • Allows employees to save for major milestones, such as purchasing a house or starting a family
  • Serves as a financial safety net in case of emergency 

2. Provide flexible payment options

More and more employers are opting for flexible payment options for their employees. It’s easy to see why. Flexible pay is a great option for employees who want to access their paychecks on their own time instead of following the standard payroll schedule. So instead of receiving a paycheck every two weeks, an employee can choose to cash out what they earned in real time. 

The benefits: 

  • Allows employees to choose a compensation schedule that works for their needs
  • Relieves the stress of having to worry about whether they’ll receive a paycheck in time to pay rent or cover their next bill 

3. Support major expenses

Many times, what prevents employees from experiencing better financial wellbeing is the major recurring expenses in their lives. For example, monthly car payments. Having to budget for the mortgage – on top of taxes, gas, and maintenance costs – for several years can be financially burdensome. To relieve the stress of this expense, your company can either offer company car loans or set up a novated lease that allows employees to finance a new or used car with payments out of their salary package with pre-tax deductions. 

The benefits: 

  • Makes major expenses more manageable and easier to budget for
  • Saves employees money in the long run 
  • Doesn’t require a long-term commitment and offers more flexibility in terms of options

4. Create financial education opportunities

A lack of financial literacy is a huge blocker when it comes to employees achieving financial wellbeing. In fact, a survey found that fewer than half of all Australians could answer five basic financial questions correctly. To improve financial literacy, we recommend introducing various educational opportunities for your workforce. This can include anything from hosting financial literacy workshops to offering free sessions with financial advisors as a company benefit. 

The benefits: 

  • Empowers employees to take their finances into their own hands
  • Arms employees with the knowledge to make smart financial decisions

There are many things HR teams can do to improve the financial wellbeing of their workforce – even beyond just paying a salary. Identify which of these recommendations align with the needs of your organisation and get started on them today. 

If you have any employees who are in need of support, be sure to check out Wellness@Work, a free hub designed to support HR and Australian workers by giving them access to free content.

If you’re looking for an additional HR software to support your business, Flare offers a free onboarding software with employee management and benefits. To learn more, please request a demo.