A recent study by Page Personnel showed that almost 74.5% of companies in Belgium do not have a solid program in place to help employees with mental health issues. What can companies learn from the Covid crisis when it comes to managing mental health in the workplace?

Professionals have struggled over the past year as the cycle of lockdowns, false dawns, and health scares took its toll. And since there’s no vaccine against mental health challenges, you need to make sure you have a supportive company culture and wellness-first policies in place if you want to attract top talent. 

There is still a lot of work to be done before most companies have reached that point. According to a recent survey by Page Personnel only 35.5% of companies communicate about mental health with their employees. Even less (25.5%) also set up actions or policies to address the issue.

At the same time a good mental health program is high on the list of candidates. For more than 80% it is a reason to apply for a job with a company, or not. What can the recent Covid crisis teach us about the way companies should manage mental health in the workplace? These are the most important lessons:

1.    Create an open company culture

Almost a third (29%) of the respondents in Belgium say they don´t feel confident to talk about mental health with their colleagues, suggesting that there’s still some stigma attached to this in the workplace. Especially since 88% of the respondents do feel comfortable raising their concerns with family members. And respectively 85% discusses mental health with their friends. Creating a culture were employees feel more comfortable to talk about their problems. 

2.    Embrace an inclusive way of management

During the pandemic, it was not so much the working remote itself that caused the anxiety or a feeling of loneliness.  A more significant factor could be the number of workers who believed their employers lacked empathy and understanding, with 46% feeling that their manager neglected their mental health and 52% that they got less credit for their work. 

This suggests that companies should put more emphasis on inclusive ways of managing their teams, so that everyone feels valued and heard. Many respondents gave examples of inclusive management policies, such as employee recognition programs (42.7% of respondents), and better communication with managers to control time and task planning (43.6%). 

Other ideas included “well-being” initiatives, such as meditation workshops or mindful eating courses (26.4%).

3.    Embrace flexible working policies

Half of the respondents believe that companies should lean in more strongly on flexible work patterns and consider policies like banning emails and meetings during non-official working hours. 

4.    Teach coping strategies

Over 60% of respondents reported negative impacts from the pandemic. Topping the list were higher levels of stress/anxiety (22.7% of candidates), weight loss or gain (16.4%) and a decline in sleep quality (14.5%). 

Many respondents to the survey reported that they developed their own coping strategies, with exercise (41% of respondents), healthy eating (43%)  and maintaining contact with friends and loved ones (44.5%) the most popular options. 

They showed that in most cases there is a way out if you are struggling with mental health issues. It´s up to the companies to create a formal program to support those employees who cannot do it on their own. 

Page Personnel understands the importance of finding the right match between employer and employee based not just on a competence, experience and skills basis, but also in ensuring the cultural fit and working dynamic works for both parties. 

If you would like to talk to one of our expert consultants about how Page Personnel can help you find the right talent for your organisation, or to talk about the results of our latest survey, get in touch today. 

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