The mental health impact of COVID-19 cannot be underestimated. During the initial phase of the pandemic, mental health concerns became evident, and they continue to have long-term implications. Many organizations were focused on their employees’ mental health prior to the pandemic, but these unique and lingering concerns are causing employers to rethink their approach to employee engagement and care. It is important for organizations to be actively aware that it is not possible for employees to be engaged in their work when their mental health is at risk. More importantly, organizations have a responsibility for the overall well-being of their employees. The care needed when it comes to mental health in the workplace most often falls onto the backs of management and Human Resources (HR) divisions. As HR divisions finalize their goals and objectives for 2022, it is important to be aware of the mental health crisis that is occurring and ensure employees feel supported.
Impact of Mental Health in the Workplace
COPC Inc. and Execs In The Know published an Executive Summary, 2020 Corporate Insights and Initiatives, based on the Customer Experience Management Benchmark Series, (https://www.copc.com/resources/research/)
The report states, “The year 2020 was one like no other for both consumers and organizations. The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated social and economic restrictions forced organizations to transition contact center staff to work-from-home (WFH) environments virtually overnight and change how consumers interact with those organizations.” (Read more from this report: https://www.copc.com/resources/research/)
The Role of Isolation to Employee Mental Health
One year later, organizations are still wrestling with this new reality. Employees are facing challenges that they likely have never had to face; from schedule changes, shifting family dynamics, and a new working environment. While connecting with co-workers through Zoom and other online meeting applications is beneficial, online meeting fatigue and lack of in-person interaction can cause many hardships. It cannot go unnoticed how newfound isolation greatly impacts mental health.
Michael Thompson, President and CEO of National Alliance, and Colleen McHugh, Executive Vice President of the American Health Policy Institute, spoke to attendees at the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions’ 2021 Annual Forum about the state of workplace mental health.
Thompson shared, “We had a mental health crisis before the pandemic and that crisis has only been exacerbated by COVID-19. We must address the issues of affordable access to all levels of quality mental health services. Collectively, the public and private sector must work together to motivate change. If we do not, things will only get worse.” (https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/mental-health-index-data-shines-spotlight-on-3-key-employer-challenges-301422489.html)
McHugh continued with, “Corporate culture is a priority and focus of HR executives. The mindset of employees and how they show up to work makes a difference to an organization’s success. Creating a corporate culture that de-stigmatizes mental health issues and integrates mental health resources into the core benefits structure will be critical moving forward.” ( https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/mental-health-index-data-shines-spotlight-on-3-key-employer-challenges-301422489.html)
Implementing Effective Mental Health Strategies
As the new year approaches, it is crucial for organizations and HR divisions to carefully examine their culture, approach, and programs related to mental health support. They must understand any potential mental health challenges among their staff and assess the capabilities of management to identify warning signs and sensitively address those concerns. Implementing effective mental health strategies and programs into yearly plans is not only critical to an organization’s success but is a company’s responsibility for the well-being of the employees in their care.