Mental health conditions have a major impact on employee well-being and are one of the biggest causes of long-term absenteeism at work. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased people’s stress and anxiety levels and they are experiencing a wide spectrum of emotions, which means that mental health support and care matters now more than ever.
But as life slowly gets back to a new-normal and people begin to return to their workplaces, employers will need to implement new policies to address their employees’ increased anxiety, maintain their motivation and productivity, and promote good mental health in the workplace.
Anxiety in the workplace has always been high, but the circumstances of COVID-19 show an even quicker deterioration in mental health, loss of motivation and productivity. A study by Feel reveals a 200% increase in negative emotions during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is quite an extraordinary indicator of how mental health was affected.
For those in need of mental health support services, post-pandemic there will be even longer waiting times for appointments due to the shortage of therapists and the increase in the number of people needing support. This is because following intense social distancing and isolation trauma and PTSD symptoms are becoming more common amongst those who have survived COVID-19, those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, and those who already suffer from long-term mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, who are predisposed to having an increased risk of developing PTSD.
However, this does not mean that each condition is permanent or even severe enough to be substantially limiting for an employee, but rather that some everyday life or work activities may be more time-consuming or difficult compared to others. Also, not surprisingly, common disorders such as anxiety and stress might increase due to workload.
We all face challenges in life that can impact our mental health.
Mental health issues cost businesses both time and money. People with mental health conditions on average make 6 times more emergency room visits and consequently 4 times more medical claims compared to people without a mental health diagnosis. And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.
Fortunately, employers have started taking actions to safeguard mental health in the workplace. Indeed, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that for every $1 invested in the treatment and support of mental health disorders sees a return of $4 in improved health and productivity. Researchers have also found that businesses who invest in mental health programs for their employees to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, train managers and improve the culture around mental health in the workplace, see a $10 return for every $1 invested.
When it comes to the post quarantine return to normality and routine, many employees will face a lot of challenges and concerns when they return to the office including a potential increase in mental health issues amongst their employees.
The workplace will have to change and adapt quickly, and is the perfect time for HR departments to rethink their policies and take advantage of the opportunity to create a workplace culture that destigmatizes mental health.
Returning to work post COVID-19 will not be easy for anyone.
Employees will face a lot of challenges and concerns when they return to the office, not least increased stress and anxiety regarding their health, their jobs and childcare.
Employers need to ensure that policies and programs are in place that create a safe, productive environment, to address their employees’ concerns to maintain their motivation and productivity.
We have created a FREE guide designed to provide actionable advice on how to safeguard their workforce’s mental health.
This easy-to-read guide will help employers and HR professionals:
Download your free copy here.