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Employee Engagement Talent Management

What Should HR Know About Mental Health?

Prologue

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one out of five adults in the US experience mental illness in a year. The news of suicides hitting the media has become a common scenario these days. We discuss physical illness and get it treated. But when it comes to mental illness, we shy away from talking with anyone—thinking that it is a taboo. Our society associates mental illness with the person being out of their mind or the need to visit a mental asylum. However, as most of us know by now, that is usually not the case.

While earlier, mental health concerns were mostly attributed to personal reasons, the COVID scenario, the work from homes and the almost non-existing boundaries of work and home, work related stress cases have been on a high too. It isn’t uncommon now to come across an article on work-from-home burnouts. The problem is real and about time that it got addressed too.

Introduction

In any organization, the recruitment process and any kind of interaction with the employees is done by the HR department. The HR even fills in the roles of other departments when they are not able to function. The HR team delivers payroll, verifies compliance, and other regulatory concerns. The purpose of HR in an organization is a major one and comes with a lot of responsibility. The HR team is literally everywhere and hence it becomes imminent for them to be on the knowhow of the mental health of their employees too.

In this blog, we talk about a few important points that we feel, that the HRs should be aware of, especially given the current scenario and the expectation of virtual workspace becoming commonplace.

The Need To Know & The Approach

The HR needs to make its employees comfortable and gain their trust and confidence that they will be listened to when any problem arises. At the workplace, they need to ensure that the employees are being paid off properly, manage benefits, and ensure their employees’ mental health. 

1. COVID saw a lot of furloughs, layoffs and pay-cuts. The financial burden that was put all of a sudden on the employees was too much to handle. Nobody is still sure as to when will this situation end. Hence, as an HR, it is a duty to not just communicate the decision but also make it as soft as possible. A hard-hitting communication in such tough times can adversely affect, not just the employee but the entire team.

2. Offering professional development services, providing them with skills and training, and responding to employees’ problems is the least that can be planned for in the annual HR calendars. Also, it doesn’t make sense to have a townhall because people do not want to go all public about their concerns. A one on one helps. Yes, it will take more time but it will actually be productive.

3. The HR needs to upgrade its knowledge and learn about mental illness by attending workshops, seminars, online sessions provided by various Human Resource providers. They can also enrol themselves for a part-time or a full-time certified course in mental illness counselling to better insight into the causes and ways to deal with such people and give a new path to their career. 

4. The team should be aware of the employment laws related to mental illness and inform their employees and staff so that they may not shy away from discussing their problems. HR should be well aware of the Equality Act, 2010, which protects employees from discrimination in the workplace. This act needs to be implemented and brought into use so that the employees feel secure, and the stigma of mental illness is also ruled out.

5. It will not be too much to ask if a therapist is onboarded for regular mental health check-ups. Alternatively, therapy sessions should be covered in the medical. This is all the more important for firms that have high-paced growth because overworking does put a lot of pressure on the individuals.

6. One of the most important ways to ensure mental health at the workplace is the work area’s environment. The environment should be conducive to people’s issues. They should be confident enough to disclose their problem and discuss with the HR. As is usually the perception, the HR team should simply steer clear of the image of being loyal to the top brass. The team should ensure that they are projected as being loyal to the employees, to the organisation and that all the concerns raised are adequately attended too.

Conclusion

The role of HR professionals in an organization is no doubt tedious but is the most responsible one. The success of an organisation depends on how happy, satisfied or positively charged its employees are. Somehow, the HR team is the only one that can address all of it. Employee engagement for instance can be one such way to go about it. How does one engage in a good engagement program though, well that is what we at Qbikel are for!!

So, would you like to know more?

See Also: Why Does Your Employee Stay?

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