Author: Michael Davis, Principal, Mind Share Partners
Workplace mental health challenges are increasing and pervasive. Most companies offer mental health support for individual employees, including Employee Assistance Programs, apps, and medical benefits. While necessary, individual support alone is not enough.
Research shows that workplace culture factors impact mental health, including whether we feel respected and valued, have a sense of autonomy, and experience a reasonable workload and growth opportunities.
Companies need to more intentionally and systematically integrate mental health into the fabric of their employee journey and company culture. But how?
Leaders can partner with HR and Talent teams to integrate strategies into five key points along the employee journey to foster a community of inclusion, psychological safety, and mental health.
Show Your Support for Mental Health in Recruitment and Hiring
Given that many employees value mental health more than even advancement opportunities, companies can attract top talent by emphasizing mental health. During recruitment and hiring, leaders and HR and Talent teams should:
Show a commitment to mental health in job descriptions and website language by highlighting available resources and flexible work arrangements.
Publish reports on mental health initiatives and goals on your company's website to demonstrate progress.
Model mentally healthy practices throughout the hiring process. This includes demonstrating respect for candidates’ time, providing ample notice and time for required tasks, and communicating transparently throughout the process.
Introduce Mental Health Resources During Onboarding
Employees’ first experiences with a new company are critical to demonstrating and promoting a culture of mental health. During onboarding, leaders, managers, and HR and Talent teams should:
Train all new hires on available mental health resources, policies, and foundational knowledge and skills, like navigating conversations and being an ally for mental health.
Assign a mentor or buddy to new employees who can create a sense of connection and belonging while answering questions and navigating obstacles.
Offer stories from leaders sharing their own mental health challenges, experiences, and hopes for the company to reduce stigma and normalize mental health.
Reinforce a Culture of Mental Health Through Ongoing Engagement
Companies can build ongoing engagement among employees by reinforcing a culture of mental health. To build engagement, leaders, managers, and HR and Talent teams should:
Host events about employee well-being and normalize mental health throughout the year—not just during Mental Health Awareness Month.
Recognize employees who model mentally healthy practices, not just those who go above and beyond.
Communicate transparently about priorities and decision-making in ways that build understanding, buy-in, and reduce anxiety.
Infuse Mental Health Into Employee Growth and Development
To support mental health while developing and growing employees, leaders, and managers can:
Build expectations for supporting a culture of mental health into scorecards and performance management systems.
Train managers to regularly check in with team members—including around mental health. Include discussions of professional goals and growth into one-on-one and team discussions demonstrating care and concern for employees’ well-being and growth.
Standardize company practices for teams to have regular discussions about improving how work is done regularly. Make sure this happens at least two times per year in every team.
Offering Support During Offboarding
Even when someone leaves, companies have the opportunity to support mental health by treating exiting employees and those who remain with dignity. During offboarding, leaders can partner with HR to:
Conduct exit interviews that ask explicitly about mental health supports and company culture. Leaders should partner with HR and Talent teams to use this data as part of a regular feedback loop to learn and improve the employee journey.
Provide additional access to mental health support and resources to exiting employees—especially employees leaving due to a restructuring or right-sizing effort.
Transparently communicate and proactively offer support to remaining employees. The remaining employees might experience various emotions such as confusion, uncertainty, distrust, and more when a colleague leaves, is laid off, or is fired.
Company and HR leaders are prioritizing employee experience and adjusting their employee journey mapping—and rightfully so. From the moment someone encounters a job posting through the moment an employee leaves, organizations have an opportunity to support mental health and well-being along the way by integrating these key practices and strategies.
About the Author
Michael Davis, Principal, Mind Share Partners
Michael leads impact-focused advising for companies and leaders on how to create a culture of support for mental health in the workplace. He facilitates Mind Share Partners’ workplace training and leads strategic projects. Michael has focused his career on social impact and seeks to bring a people-focused, inquiry-driven approach to creating inclusive and equitable learning environments and organizations where all people can maximize their potential and thrive.