Talent Canada
Talent Canada

Columns/Blogs Features Mental Health
How HR leaders can enhance team success through mental health initiatives

November 13, 2023
By Tania Galindo

When workers suffer from chronic stress or other mental illnesses related to their work, many organizations are at a loss. (blacksalmon/Adobe Stock)

One of the most vital responsibilities you have as an HR leader is ensuring the well-being of your team members. While physical health often takes the front seat, it’s crucial not to overlook the importance of mental health in the workplace.

Prioritizing a team’s mental health is essential to fostering a healthy and productive work environment. Fortunately, there are many effective strategies and policies HR leaders and professionals can implement to create a more supportive environment.

Why leaders need to prioritize their team’s mental health

It’s no secret that mental health directly affects productivity. When employees are struggling with their mental well-being, their ability to focus, solve problems, and make key decisions can be hindered. By recognizing the impact mental health has on productivity, HR leaders can take proactive steps to support their team members and optimize employee performance, growth, and overall success.

Studies have shown that neglected mental health can lead to increased absenteeism, reduced engagement, and higher turnover rates. These hidden costs can significantly impact the overall success of a business. By investing in mental health support, HR professionals can enhance employee well-being while also driving productivity and increasing workplace morale.


How HR can support employee mental health

Common issues related to mental health that employees may experience in the workplace include stress, anxiety, burnout, and depression. By addressing these common mental health issues, HR professionals can then identify which strategies work best for their organization to better support and promote the mental well-being of their team.

Flexible work arrangements: This could include allowing your employees to work remotely or adjusting their working hours to accommodate personal needs. By providing flexibility, employees have the opportunity to better manage their workload and maintain a healthier work-life balance — which can positively impact their mental well-being.

Employee assistance programs (EAPs/EFAPs): Another valuable resource that HR leaders can utilize, EAPs offer confidential counseling services and referrals to mental health professionals. By offering EAPs, your HR team can provide employees with a safe and accessible avenue to seek help and support when needed. This not only addresses mental health issues but also shows employees that their well-being is valued and supported,

Education and resources: Providing informational resources on topics such as stress management, mindfulness, and self-care can help raise awareness among employees. HR can also organize mental health initiatives such as workshops, seminars, or wellness challenges to promote mental well-being and provide employees with practical tools to manage their mental health effectively.

Healthy work-life balance promotion: Your HR team can facilitate this by encouraging employees to take breaks, use their vacation time, and avoid overworking. HR can also implement policies that address excessive workloads, encourage regular breaks, and discourage after-hours communication. By fostering a culture that prioritizes work-life balance, HR helps create an environment where employees feel supported and valued — reducing the ongoing risk of mental health issues.

Recognizing the impact of mental health on productivity

Prioritizing a team’s mental health is not just a moral obligation but also a strategic decision. By recognizing the impact of mental health on productivity, fostering a safe and supportive work culture, providing resources and support, and promoting self-care and wellness initiatives, HR leaders can create an environment where employees thrive both in their professional and personal lives. Remember, taking care of your team’s mental health is an investment that pays dividends in the long run.

Creating a safe and supportive work culture

Encourage team members to share their thoughts and concerns without fear of judgment or repercussions. Create channels for anonymous feedback and provide a platform for employees to voice their ideas and suggestions. Regularly check in with team members to gauge their well-being and address any concerns that may arise.

Implementing policies that promote work-life balance and stress management is also an important factor. Encourage flexible working hours, remote work options, and designated breaks to ensure employees have the time and space to take care of their mental well-being. Offering resources like counseling services or mental health workshops can also provide valuable support to team members.

Providing resources and support

HR leaders can make a significant impact by providing resources and support for mental health. Confidential counseling services and referrals to mental health professionals through EAPs, for example, allow HR leaders to provide employees with a safe and accessible outlet for seeking help and support when needed.

Training managers to identify signs of mental distress and providing guidance on how to support employees is another essential aspect. By equipping managers with the tools and knowledge to recognize and address mental health struggles, HR leaders can ensure that each member of the team receives the necessary support and accommodations they need.

Promoting self-care and wellness initiatives

Promoting self-care and implementing wellness initiatives is another effective way to prioritize mental health as an HR leader. Encourage team members to engage in activities that promote relaxation and stress reduction — such as exercise, meditation, and hobbies. Organize workshops and seminars on stress management and mindfulness, providing employees with the necessary tools to take care of their mental well-being.

By incorporating self-care and wellness initiatives into the workplace, HR leaders send a clear message that mental health matters. This can create a positive and supportive atmosphere where your employees feel cared for and motivated to perform their best.

Providing support for the mental health of your employees is crucial in creating a healthy and productive work environment. An HR team that prioritizes mental health contributes to a thriving workplace where employees can reach their full potential both professionally and personally.

Tania Galindo is the vice-president of sales at DOCUdavit, a document scanning and storage service based in Toronto.

Print this page


Stories continue below