Worry, stress, overload - mental complaints can have many causes. The pandemic and the current political situation, characterised by war and energy crisis, can also have a negative impact on mental health. Current figures show that this development should be taken very seriously: 23 percent of Germans have already sought medical help due to depression. In addition, almost every tenth has already sought help from a doctor for a burn out (9 percent).
This means not only a great deal of personal suffering, but also social and economic losses due to reduced productivity at the workplace, increased absenteeism, greater fluctuation, shortage of skilled workers and higher recruiting costs. Therefore, corporate health management will become a central task in every company.
HR managers are not psychiatrists and often lack the necessary experience in dealing with employees with mental illness. They need to be trained and educated so that they can ensure well-being in the workplace. They should be able to recognise who needs help in the company and how they can support those affected on their healing journey. In addition, HR managers need to be aware of the labor laws governing mental illness.
More importantly, HR together with the C-level management have to create a working atmosphere where employees do not hesitate to report symptoms– without fear of a negative reaction. This means that managers also need to be trained and send out a clear signal that mental health issues are being addressed with compassion. They should also ensure that mental health stigma, misunderstandings, misrepresentations and misinformation have no place in the company.
This includes a corporate culture based on values such as trust, openness, respect and integrity. In addition, mental health guidelines should be developed within the company to support managers in looking after their teams.
The second step is to gather data which is already available within HR such as results from former employee surveys, data about work absence for each department, total sick leaves, employee turnover, and already known health complaints. To start a deep dive on the health situation in your company, you can carry out 1:1 interviews, workshops or dedicated health surveys. Questionnaires should be customised for the activity of different departments or the company’s business.
In order to analyse the data and correctly assess the psychological stress in your company, you need external experts. After identifying meaningful results, HR can develop a strategy and programs for prevention, intervention, and protection. Corporate health management looks different in every company but can include fields such as coaching, corporate behaviour, diversity, education about healthy eating or training on back problems, addiction and burnout prevention programs.