By Jennifer Price, HR Consultant, East Coast Risk Management
The global Coronavirus pandemic has not only taken a toll on the physical health of our employees, but it has also impacted mental health. In a matter of only a few weeks:
- A huge wage of anxiety and fear has spread across the nation.
- Employees are concerned over the health and well-being of themselves and their loved ones.
- Financial strain has impacted many Americans as they worry about job stability and paying the next bill.
- Our normal daily routines have been disrupted.
- Some employees have taken on teaching responsibilities for multiple children, all while continuing with normal work responsibilities.
- Many remote workers may be feeling extremely isolated.
Now more than ever, employers need to support the mental health of their employees. Without a plan to address the additional stress and burdens placed on the shoulders of so many; teamwork can break down, trust and loyalty can falter, and ultimately organization success can come to a screeching halt. We know we are all in this together, but what can we do to ensure our most valuable resources are receiving the additional support they need at this time? Fortunately, there are multiple ways that employers can provide support and show their employees they are certainly a priority.
Here are some ideas to help employees remember that they are not alone:
Share and encourage the use of company resources.
If you have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), remind your employees of the mental health resources that may be available and ensure the resources are easy to find. Often employees may not realize that these consults are confidential through an outside party and can include things like mental health counseling and financial assistance. Employee assistance programs are also relatively inexpensive, so if you do not currently have an assistance program, you may want to consider implementing one.
Some employer sponsored health care plans offer wellness services to members. Reach out to your carriers to see if they offer virtual therapy services or online mental health awareness programs.
Address the mental health stigma and encourage employees to get help. According to the CDC, mental health disorders impact nearly 1 in 5 adults, and 71% of all adults reported at least one symptom of stress during a typical year such as headaches or anxiety. Given the current health and economic crisis, these numbers are projected to grow. Employers may want to consider distributing brochures, flyers, or videos to help employees identify the signs of a mental health issue and educate them on treatment options.
Give employees flexibility when possible. In some cases, seeking mental health care and treatment may mean requesting time away from work. If employers can offer paid time off and be as flexible as possible with work schedules, your employees will benefit and be more likely to get the treatment that they may need.
Follow the ADA reasonable accommodation process. Under the ADA, employers with 15 or more employees are required to provide a reasonable accommodation to employees who may be suffering from depression, anxiety, or another mental health condition. Employers should continue to work with any employee through the interactive process and grant requests unless the request creates an undue hardship. It is also important to note that several states may have additional laws that require even more compliance in this area.
Focus on connecting employees as much as possible. Due to required closure orders and strict telework requirements through the United States, some employees may be experiencing social isolation, which in turn can lead to poor mental health. Employers can assist with addressing this psychological impact through making it a priority to connect employees. Consider setting up virtual chats and encourage video communication as much as possible.
Additional resources are available. In recognition of the mental health impacts during the pandemic, the CDC has shared information and recommendations for coping during COVID-19. For additional information please review https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html
If you are an employer that has questions on any issue relating to human resources, safety, or workers’ compensation, contact East Coast Risk Management by calling 724-864-8745 or emailing us at email@example.com.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this web site is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Use of and access to this web site does not create an attorney-client relationship between East Coast Risk Management or our employment attorney and the user or browser.