In our modern world, where productivity and success are often prioritized, it's easy to overlook the importance of mental health. No one is immune to the pressures of the modern workplace. Whether it's tight deadlines, long hours, or a never-ending to-do list, these challenges can take a toll on employees' mental wellbeing.
As an HR leader, one of your many responsibilities is to ensure your employees' wellbeing, including their mental health. So, let's explore the advantages of offering mental health days and tips on introducing them in your organization.
Understanding the Role of Mental Health in Today's Work Environment
Here's a story you're probably familiar with: Cate works in a high-pressure job where they constantly juggles multiple projects, attends meetings, and tries to meet unrealistic expectations. Over time, their stress levels have increased, and they struggle with anxiety affecting her work, relationships, and personal life.
Their manager notices that Janet has been more distressed lately and confides in an HR member to see what they can do. Together they decide Cate needs to step back and prioritize their mental health, so they are offered to take a few personal days and prioritize relaxation and self-care. A few days later, Cate returns to work feeling revitalized and more focused than ever.
As HR leaders, it's crucial to proactively recognize and address employees' mental health needs. Getting regular reports from managers can help you check in and keep tabs on how team members are doing. That way, when challenging mental health conditions arise, you can take action to help.
The Benefits of Mental Health Days for Employees
Offering periodic breaks from work and encouraging employees to take time off when they need it supports a healthy culture where wellbeing is prioritized. Including mental health days in your employee benefits package can help systematize this support, letting your staff access the benefits of mental health days as needed.
Revitalized Mental Wellbeing
Taking a mental health day can help alleviate stress, anxiety, and burnout. It provides employees with an opportunity to rest, recharge, and refocus. Consider encouraging employees to use this time to engage in activities that promote relaxation and mental wellbeing, such as meditation, exercise, or spending time with loved ones.
Additionally, it's essential to create an environment where employees feel comfortable seeking professional help when necessary. You can offer resources like an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or information about local mental health professionals.
A mentally refreshed employee tends to be more efficient and creative. Since burnout often leads to decreased productivity and job satisfaction, mental health days are the remedy. By taking time off to recharge, employees can return to work with renewed energy and focus.
Consider Cate’s, who was struggling with anxiety due to work stressors. After taking a few mental health days, they returned to work feeling refreshed and motivated. As a result, they could complete her projects more efficiently and even came up with several innovative ideas that greatly benefited the company.
Improved Work-Life Wellness
Achieving harmony between work and one's personal life supports overall wellbeing. Mental health days can allow employees to address personal matters, spend quality time with family, or relax and recharge.
As an HR leader, you are in a position to help employees find a way to integrate their professional and personal lives. Consider giving your staff flexible work arrangements or promoting a supportive culture that recognizes the signs of burnout. You can also lead by example and let your team know when you've decided to take time off for your mental health.
How Mental Health Days Benefit Employers
In addition to benefiting employees, employers can benefit from offering mental health days as a wellness perk.
Reduced Employee Turnover
Offering mental health days can help attract and retain top talent. Employees are more likely to remain loyal to a company where they feel valued and supported. Prioritizing employee mental health can help turn new hires into long-tenured teammates, saving companies the high cost of employee turnover.
Elevated Employee Morale
The uplifting impact of mental health days on the workplace atmosphere cannot be underestimated. When employees feel that their emotional wellbeing is taken seriously, it fosters a sense of trust and loyalty towards the company. A positive work environment helps increase job satisfaction and morale, boosting productivity and overall company performance.
Strengthened Company Reputation
Showcasing mental health initiatives as part of your organization's core values can help improve your company's reputation. In today's competitive job market, a strong employer brand is essential for attracting top talent. Promoting a supportive and inclusive work environment can help set your organization apart from competitors to position it as an employer of choice.
Introducing Mental Health Days in Your Organization
Do you think mental health days make sense for your organization, but you’re not sure where to start? Let's walk through some of the steps you can take to add this to your employee benefits package, from starting the initial conversations to refining your policy over time.
- Initiate Open Discussions
Honest conversations about mental health within the company are a foundational part of this process. These can be conducted at town hall meetings, employee surveys, or informal discussions with team members. Creating a safe space for dialogue will help break down the stigma surrounding mental struggles and encourage employees to seek support when needed.
- Establish Transparent Guidelines
Consider outlining clear policies and procedures for requesting mental health days. This may include specifying the number of mental health days allowed per year, the process for requesting time off, and any documentation required. Ensure that these guidelines are easily accessible to all employees and communicated effectively.
- Educate Managers
Specialized training can help managers recognize signs of employee burnout and support their team's mental wellness. This may include workshops on identifying workplace stress and anxiety symptoms such as panic attacks, or going over strategies for managing workloads and stress. This education can empower managers to lead by example and contribute to a culture of empathy and understanding.
- Assess and Adapt
You can regularly evaluate the effectiveness of your mental health day policy to keep it running smoothly. Consider gathering feedback from employees and managers, and use this information to make improvements where necessary. It's important to be open to making adjustments based on employee needs, industry trends, and best practices.
Infusing Your Workplace with a Fresh Wave of Positivity
You have the power to make a positive change in your employees' lives and your company's overall success. Implementing mental health days can be a win-win for both employees and employers. And supporting mental wellness can extend beyond taking days off. You can incorporate small daily changes, such as extra designated breaks or workflow shifts, to promote mindfulness and relaxation.
Consider providing your staff with opportunities to exercise as well. Taking care of their physical health can actually also help improve their mental health!
By prioritizing your workforce's mental wellbeing and overall health, you'll create a happier, healthier, and more productive work environment. To learn more about how to support the wellness of your team members, reach out to a Gympass wellbeing specialist today!
- Listen to your people before you change their benefits, says HR coach. (June 29, 2022). HRD. Retrieved June 1, 2023 from https://www.hcamag.com/ca/specialization/benefits/listen-to-your-people-before-you-change-their-benefits-says-hr-coach/411377.
The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.