Change the way companies talk about mental health and burnout
Not being afraid to invest in longer, more intensive programs towards creating a mentally-well workplace is very important to 3M’s leaders.
Jim Falteisek, vice president of 3M Asia Corporate Affairs shared that the company has dedicated a month towards mental health awareness, where it hosts and shares a series of content and events for employees to attend throughout the month.
Additionally, its employee-led Mental Health Advocacy Group which serves all individuals and allies navigating mental health issues provides additional resources all year long.
More than 53 per cent of employees in Vietnam joining Adecco’s 2021 report said they had been under more stress in 2021 compared to 2020. McKinsey found that a quarter of employees worldwide are experiencing burnout, and that figure climbs to one in three in Asia.
To prevent employee disengagement, absenteeism, and attrition due to burnout, employers must proactively address these challenges by creating a safe space, encouraging staff to share their mental health struggles, and providing support to help them overcome these challenges.
Spotlighting sessions on mental health during health and wellness programs help normalize the topic. It encourages employees to view mental health as another part of one’s holistic health and well-being, and something companies need to take care of.
"Balance is key. Having adequate rest and downtime is important for employees to remain productive and happy. Let’s be compassionate and understanding to ourselves and others. Encourage employees to prioritize healthy habits and hobbies. Allow them the flexibility and autonomy to take short work breaks or arrange work schedules that best fit their needs, and encourage them to seek professional help, if needed," said Jim.
At 3M, Work Your Way, a trust-based approach that lets employees create a schedule that helps them work effectively, has transformed the way employees work fostering an agile, inclusive and collaborative culture.
Create a safe environment to talk about mental health
To create a safe and effective environment to speak up and seek help for mental health, it is important to invest in programs that go beyond education. Companies can do this by tapping on quality providers to implement a mental health-focused Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
For example, 3M's EAP provides a tele-counseling hotline so employees can seek confidential consultations when needed. Employees are also not limited to seeking help for problems at the workplace.
"We understand that it’s difficult for work and life to be treated in silos. Thus, employees can also seek these services for problems they are facing in their personal lives too," said Jim.
The EAP professionals help employees assess these concerns and develop a response plan. They will provide information, problem-solving, guidance, coaching, advice, and ongoing support, as needed. They will also suggest resources inside and outside of the company.
"It does not have to stop at the employee level. We could extend these programs to families and work groups too. For example, retired employees or dependents of our employees can also tap on our EAP program if they are facing challenges," he added.
These consultations should be strictly confidential, and these should be communicated to employees so they do not have to worry about seeking help. Noone should struggle with mental health alone.
"Weare responsible for ensuring that our employees feel safe at work and are comfortable being themselves. These initiatives will go a long way in supportingemployees’ wellness and helping manage everyday needs," said Jim.
Leaders set the tone and example for employees to follow. If leaders are open to sharing their struggles and advice, this will be greatly encouraging for staff. They will understand that they will not be penalized.
From a team level, organize mental health training sessions for leaders and managers, and encourage managers to set aside time to check in with employees individually.
That said, conversations around mental health are not easy to navigate. Here’s what Jim Falteisek has learned when talking about such topics.
First, keep an open mind and avoid remarks that may be misconstrued as a judgment or downplaying of one’s experience. Second, practice active listening. Third, ask what the leaders can do and follow through. For example, they can help team members manage their workloads and working hours.
However, always encourage those affected to seek professional help as leaders are not experts. Trust is a two-way exchange. It helps if leaders who have experienced mental health challenges themselves also open up about them with their teams.