The workplace can be a source of wellbeing for employees when it provides opportunities for them to be their true selves, do great work, make an impact, and be recognized for their contributions. However, if employers refuse to acknowledge and address the negative impact that workplaces can have on employees’ mental health, they can be a breeding ground for stress and burnout. Failure to recognize mental health issues in the workplace can have a direct impact on the bottom line and can result in a workforce that is disengaged and unproductive.
The economic burden of mental illness in Canada is approximately $51 billion each year, with $6.3 billion resulting from lost productivity in the workplace. By 2041, it is estimated that the cumulative cost of poor mental health to the Canadian economy will exceed $2.5 trillion. Therefore, mental health programs are not only essential for employees’ wellbeing but also the growth and sustenance of an organization.
The good news is there are proven strategies that business leaders can adopt to combat challenges associated with mental health in the workplace.
Creating Mental Health Programs
What are some of these strategies and how do they work? Mental Health programs that are aimed at addressing workplace mental health should focus on promoting positive outcomes, destigmatizing mental health issues, and providing the tools and support required to effectively manage their employee's mental wellbeing. Speaking about mental health challenges in the workplace can be difficult for many. This is where employee wellness programs can provide a platform for raising awareness about mental health and help our people feel connected and supported. By building mental health programs, employers can help normalize conversation around mental health and encourage team members to share their struggles more openly. In doing so, they can create more tailored resources to help employees.
Architech has always aimed to be a champion in mental health awareness by giving our people a platform to speak up and connect with each other, paired with tools and resources for them to succeed.
Breaking the Stigma by Connecting With Each Other
Historically, mental health is often stigmatized, which prevents people from sharing their own experiences or asking for help. But in recent years, initiatives such as Bell Let’s Talk Day have truly helped open the dialogue in how we approach the topic. At Architech this January, our goal is to break the stigma and talk all things mental health with our ‘Think Big’ monthly theme of Mental Health and Wellness. Through our online resources, we create dialogue through our “Health and Wellness” Teams channel discussing books, resources, articles, and everything related to the topic. We also make sure to support our people in their mental health journeys. Recently, one of our colleagues hosted a virtual Lunch and Learn internally to discuss her journey of being recently diagnosed with Depression.
We all know that keeping your mind and body healthy is an important step in any mental health journey, and sometimes that means trying new things. To keep our minds free from negative thoughts, we brought in The Quiet Company to host guided meditation sessions for our team to cure those Monday Blues. Speaking of Blue Monday, sometimes a chat or seeing a friendly face can do wonders when feeling isolated. While we can’t meet in person for lunch to do this, we gave the entire team the opportunity to bring their homemade lunches to a Zoom call and casually chat about everything outside of work.
For those of us who really wanted to challenge ourselves this month, our colleague organized a Mental Health Bingo! At the end of the month, we gathered to chat about what we tried, what we liked, and discussed newly learned (or tried and true) techniques to keep our minds and bodies happy.
While games and trying new things are great, we found one of the most basic approaches to be the most effective: Wellness Check-Ins. While we have an abundance of weekly manager check-ins, project standups, kickoffs, and so on, our Talent and Culture team added bi-monthly wellness check-ins. Unlike our regular check-ins, these focus on discussing mental wellbeing, how they are doing on a day-to-day basis, and how we can work together to alleviate the stresses that come in the current circumstances we are in. It is always important to make sure that everyone is both being seen and heard.
Giving Our People the Tools They Need to Succeed
When someone is ready to talk about making a step forward in their mental health journey, or reaching out for help, it is important that they have the resources they need to support them. This is why we made it a priority to elevate our Mental Health benefits for our team by increasing our Mental Health and Therapy benefits by 75% so our people and their loved ones can get the help they need.
We also recognize that not everyone goes through the same mental health journey, and there are unexpected life events and crises that can act as triggers, leaving us feeling unsupported or unable to seek professional help and guidance. To assist with these unexpected life events and experiences, we launched our Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP) with Homewood Health. The EFAP is a free, confidential, and anonymous program that offers short-term counselling and support related to a variety of issues varying from relationship concerns, depression and anxiety, stress management, grief, work life balance, parenting, work-related difficulties, and more. It can also support in areas of childcare and eldercare, career planning, and financial or legal consultation.
2020 was a weird year. No doubt about that. As an employer, it’s important to make sure you’re taking extra steps to check the wellbeing of your people and putting them first. Sometimes it just means asking “Are you OK?” and re-evaluating the needs of your team in the current circumstances- whether that be through policies, communication style, benefits, or socials.
To learn more about how Architech is committed to growing our people, check out our Careers Page.