For many people, the phrase ‘medical care’ conjures thoughts of maintaining good physical health, avoiding sickness, getting over the flu, and focusing on a variety of physical health risks and needs. But what about emotional health, and tools that focus on minimizing work-related stress?
Emotional Health and Employee Benefits
The nature of work has changed quite a bit in the last decade, and stressors can come from many different angles.
In some professional environments, advances in mobile technologies and broadband connections have created an ‘always on’ culture. This can make it difficult for your employees to unwind and disconnect from work.
- In other environments, stagnant wage growth, coupled with personal debt, translate to workers living paycheck to paycheck. This can cause extra stress at home, and at work.
Poor mental health and stress can negatively affect employees, and get in the way of things like:
- Job performance
- Their productivity
- How they engage with their work
- The way they communicate with clients and coworkers
The CDC reports that issues related to mental illnesses, work-related stress, and depression can cause higher rates of work-related disability and unemployment. And, depression can cost U.S. businesses upwards of $44 billion annually.
As an employer, the tools and support you provide around emotional health can pay major dividends when it comes to maintaining a happy, engaged, and healthy workplace. Below, we’ll explore two ways you can help employees focus on their mental and emotional health through your benefits program.
As an employer, you play a key role when it comes to promoting the health and wellness of your employees, starting with the benefits you offer. Some studies point out that nearly 50% of adults with health coverage receive it through employer-sponsored plans. Using a cloud-based benefits administration tool like BeneTrac can also help employees get more out of the benefits they have. Learn more.
Prioritizing Emotional Health and Wellness
In the world of benefits, support for emotional and behavioral health has started to gain more traction. A number of employer-sponsored plans include access to medication for depression, as well as mental health counseling for no, or low out-of-pocket costs.
- In many plans, working with a professional counselor includes lower reimbursement rates, compared to working with medical doctors for physical health needs.
- What’s more, mental health professionals can face a number of barriers when they want to enter into insurance networks. Therefore, many prefer to work exclusively out-of-pocket, rather than via insurance billing.
Still, the workplace remains a key location where workers can engage in activities designed to improve their well-being. Here are two ways you can help employees get support for their emotional wellness:
1. Consider wellness benefits that focus on mental and emotional health and wellness
Workplace wellness programs can play a major role when it comes to encouraging employees to engage with their health, and take steps toward supporting emotional wellness. There are a number of wellness-related tools that can help employees gain a better picture of their emotional health, including:
- Free health self-assessment tools available to employees at all levels.
- Clinical screenings, whether free or subsidized through your plan, for issues related to depression or work-related stress.
- Programs that include lifestyle coaching or counseling.
- Opportunities to connect with qualified mental health professionals, and to receive clinical referrals.
- Group seminars or workshops that focus on issues related to depression.
- Access to stress management techniques that include tactics related to mindfulness, physical activity, walking, light exercises, meditation, or yoga.
2. Encourage workers to take advantage of their Paid Time Off (PTO)
PTO combines sick leave and vacation time, and gives employees a set amount of time off at the beginning of each year. They can then choose when and how they want to use this time off—and that includes using PTO for a mental health day.
The way your organization handles PTO, and prioritizes time away, might be at the heart of creating a happier, more-engaged workplace.
Some workers choose not to use their PTO, and would rather stockpile it for a rainy day that never comes. However, when workers forgo taking time off, it can:
- Leave them susceptible to burnout
- Aggravate or worsen illnesses or stressful situations
- Cause illnesses to spread around the workplace
How you discuss and support the use of PTO in your workplace plays a major part in encouraging workers to use it. That’s why many organizations look for ways to emphasize how important it is to take PTO.
- Managers and leaders can discuss how important it is to take PTO as a way to avoid burnout, and minimize work-related stress.
- Through your communications efforts, you can discuss the ways that PTO can actually improve productivity in the long run.
When all is said and done, your professional environment is an important setting when it comes to creating a foundation of emotional health. With internal communications in place, wellness options, and an organizational structure that encourages employees to take charge of their health and wellness, you can make put mental and emotional health at the forefront of maintaining a productive workplace.
As your go-to benefits administration software, BeneTrac can help enhance the way your employees engage with their benefits, and help your HR and benefits administration teams save time in the process. Contact a BeneTrac representative, and find out how we can help support your efforts.