Dear CHRO, be a Mental Health Champion

Oct 8, 2020 | Human Resource

According to data from Glint, LinkedIn’s employee engagement solution, employee burnout risk reached a two-year high in August 2020. As if the pandemic was not enough in itself, the dystopic world view it has created, is causing serious mental health challenges for more and more individuals.

Unfortunately, mental health is still a rather hush-hush topic even in the most progressive workplaces. Employees don’t feel comfortable reaching out to their managers or their employers regarding their issues. The awareness regarding mental health is also very skewed which will not change until and unless there are some strict board room changes that are being brought in place first. It’s high time the CHROs and senior leaders responsible for the people of an organization, start taking proactive roles in setting up policies and practices which are a little more impactful than a simple Employee Assistance Program. Especially during these times of remote working when the line between life and work is becoming blurrier by the second and communication difficult, a long, hard look at your employee’s health is a must. Be a champion, we say.

Self Help is the Best Help

According to LinkedIn Learning, professionals viewed 5 times more courses on Stress Management, Mindfulness, and Meditation this year compared to last year. It’s a hint nobody should drop and to put it bluntly, a stress management workshop does not quite cut the cake, so make content available on your enterprise LMS about mental health which employees can refer to whenever necessary.

Train the Managers

It is not just ergonomics that enhances productivity. A team that is managed well, with less pressure and more encouragement is going to thrive. That’s a home truth but to create that environment for their teams, managers must be more organized, open to flexible working, better at resource management as a whole. However, that won’t happen without an effective training and reinforcement of the same.

Obligation-in-Law

HR heads should make the managers aware of the legal obligations of the necessity of taking care of staff mental health. This can start with training in soft skills and emotional intelligence. In many cases it has been seen that team leads have been oblivious to pretty obvious signs of mental breakdown among associates. Educating them with the various forms of mental illness is also an imperative. LMS content to your rescue again.

End Stigma and Talk

A good start obviously is to start talking about the elephant in the room – ‘work related stress’ but there is a lot more. Because of the stigma and lack of awareness associated with mental health, employees find it difficult to talk about their anxiety, depression, OCDs, eating disorders, personality issues, PTSD, phobias and the list can go on. Not all mental issues are glaring but maybe a little push from a top official will help them talk about their journey. Instead of a workshop with a lifestyle coach, a talk by the CEO who might be going through therapy themselves is going to be more relatable.

Finally, to make your board room presentation easy note this.Staff mental health even has a business benefit. Less sick leaves, more productivity, better performance and less employees quitting should definitely draw enough attention even from senior management to start taking mental health seriously and make the right investments. So, this World Mental Health Awareness Day, we urge you to step up your game and be the CHRO the world needs. To a world that is healthy and peaceful, amen!

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