Mental illness can prove to be a silent destroyer of workplace productivity and employee happiness. US employers cough up between USD 79 and 105 billion annually to make up for the damage stemming from poor mental health and substance abuse . This can take the shape of reduced productivity, insurance spends and increased absences. In fact, mental illness is the top reason for missing work in the UK.

1. Create awareness

Incorporating mental health plans into engagement plans can be very effective.

Inviting speakers and third-party services providers to employee events, holding monthly meets or even annual retreats, and creating an environment where employees feel safe about communicating ongoing challenges should head the priority list.

2. Encourage dialog

Conversations on mental health should be commonplace – fostering scenarios where ailments seem as par for course, no different from an accident or an infection.

Managers could set the precedent, speaking about the challenges they have experienced or encountered. This gives subordinates and new employees the space to join in as well. The goal is to introduce an element of ‘the personal’, reducing the taboo around mental illness.

3. Improve working conditions

With the average employee spending at least 40 hours a week at work (the number jumps significantly for bottom-tier and top-tier positions), the daily working experience can make a big difference.

Several factors add up here – from healthy meal plans and flexible hours to hands-off managerial approaches and community building activities. Seamless equipment upgrades, timely HR and IT assistance and a variety other simple butt critical tweaks ensure employees are happy, stress levels are contained, and satisfaction rates soar.

4. Deploy the right plans

Employee schemes must clearly outline a mental health component – while this is typically covered by the standard umbrella, adding a dedicated module can also help. Companies could even take a gamified approach – setting goalposts and check-ins to promote a sense of inclusivity and participation.

Choosing an appropriate third-party provider is an important part of the process – this includes software service firms, insurance agencies, and even deployment consultancy services if required.

5. Monitor routinely

A critical aspect of any wellness scheme is preemptive and preventive care.

Keeping an eye out for red flags, conducting monthly checks, and asking employees to self-report – via surveys, for instance – can spot mental illness before they’re about to set in. At this stage, therapeutic solutions like counseling may be enough to take on the issue.

Regular monitoring can fetch significant savings in terms of healthcare bills and productivity dips. Mental illnesses can turn into lifelong battles, which take their toll on the employee and the organization if not nipped in the bud.

– Chiradeep BasuMallick

Read more: 5 Ways to Promote Mental Health in the Workplace with Technology

Image by Marvin Meyer from Unsplash