Want a better business? Invest in workforce mental fitness
The emotional toll from the pandemic is beginning to move into the background, replaced by signs of hope on the horizon. The last year has taught us many lessons. Central among those was physical health, evident with prioritizing masks, frequent temperature checks and hand washing, as well as attending to our mental and emotional well-being. During May, organizations across America will commemorate Mental Health Awareness Month, taking the opportunity to focus on education and support of mental fitness.
The pandemic has increased the need to address mental health, and we must all do what we can to support our families, workforce, and each other as we move forward. Toward this end, the workplace is essential, as it plays a critical role in our everyday lives and a strategic point for businesses to lead the way in addressing mental fitness and suicide prevention.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans spend the majority of their day at work, most often away from family and friends. This not only removes them from an indigenous network of love and emotional support, but can adversely affect workplace colleagues when individuals are suffering from burn-out, depression, fatigue, or thoughts of suicide. To appropriately address this, we need an employer-supported response, particularly as what is good for the employee is also good for the company.
People often set fitness goals around losing weight, cardiovascular wellness, and exercise. However, attention to protecting and improving mental health often remains an afterthought, as life overtakes the need and conscious care required to build a resilient mindset―one focused on growth and change. Companies and organizations can assist with this by setting goals to train employees on ways to improve mental well-being, combat negative thought patterns, and foster an emotionally intelligent workforce. In addition, incorporating workforce mental health into leadership training for managers is one of the most impactful steps a business can take.
The trauma of the pandemic makes this year especially important, requiring that we take specific action to address the stress, fatigue, and depression felt by so many. Executives can do this by increasing empathy and understanding, particularly as employees shift location and responsibilities from home to the workplace.
To help, the Salt Lake Chamber developed a playbook to support your most critical capital, human capital. The Suicide Prevention in the Workforce Employer Toolkit outlines a series of steps your organization can take to sustain, promote and improve mental health. The Toolkit is divided into five sections:
- Pre-Action Planning. Provides assessment and considerations for implementing new mental health and suicide prevention strategies in the workplace.
- Upstream Strategies. Addresses what organizations can do to bolster protective factors that prevent mental health problems in the first place.
- Midstream Strategies. Discusses how organizations can identify employees who are experiencing higher levels of stress or who are in the early stages of a mental health or substance abuse problem.
- Downstream Strategies. Guides organizations to ensure they respond safely and effectively if and when mental health or suicide crises occur.
- Getting Started. Builds upon the previous sections and highlights what organizations can do to begin addressing mental health in their work environment.
The workplace is an opportune area to address mental fitness, and we encourage all employers to use the toolkit to implement and refine strategies to assist employees. This will not only create more engaging and productive workplaces and improve organizational performance but can also save lives. Utah’s workforce keeps our state first among equals, and the individuals who carry our economy deserve the best of leadership who make sure their mental well-being is a key priority.