The mental health formula for enhanced employee experiences

Mark Malis, Vice President of Global Employee Experiences at audit management software company Netwrix on how businesses can uplift employee mental health

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has led to the massive transition to both hybrid and remote working over the past few years. The new reality of what is called ‘the future of work’ has made us realise that the way in which we conduct and experience life has and will continue to shift dramatically. This has created varying degrees of change in our usual and previous activities, and, as such, has a bearing on our mental health and wellbeing. 

Here, Mark Malis, Vice President of Global Employee Experiences at company Netwrix shares how businesses can support employee mental health.

Conversation is key for mental health

“Change creates strain in and of itself – when we combine that with working remotely, in isolation, through collaboration tools such as Teams or Zoom, it impacts us emotionally and physically, and can appear as fatigue, burnout, and depression,” explains Malis. “It is critical for organisations to keep engaged with employees in this new and sustained era of work in order to ensure enhanced business productivity.

“Companies must also re-evaluate their level of manager and employee interaction to help ensure that caring, supportive, and collaborative conversations are taking place. As we can’t engage face-to-face as often as pre-pandemic, having the right dialogue in place is imperative. Managers need to extend conversations with employees beyond just their work performance. Simply asking employees “How are you feeling?” and “How can we help and support you?” need to become more of the ongoing narrative.”

Managers should remember that this is not just small talk prior to jumping into the woods of current work tasks. If they see and feel that something is truly wrong, they need to react.

“As we witness countless areas of change taking place within the workplace, the emphasis on corporate results needs to be balanced with the additional emphasis on employees’ mental health and wellbeing,” says Malis. “Traditional leadership training used to be focused on business results only, however, these days it will need to dramatically shift to the topics of employee care and support. As a result, this new approach can create a new profile of future leaders.”


Providing real mental health support for employees

According to Malis, organisations and senior-level management need to encourage their employees to do small, yet meaningful actions in order to promote positive mental health, such as: 

  • Eating healthily
  • Exercising
  • Finding time to call a friend
  • Taking 15 minutes in the day to meditate and create calm
  • Taking the dog for a walk 

“These are all simple, yet extremely valuable mechanisms to bring good balance into the day,” says Malis. “Managers can also stimulate positive mental health by sending supportive emails by thanking their employees for good work they have done and acknowledging key achievements. This can be achieved by encouraging team members to enjoy their weekend free time and to express that they truly look forward to engaging with them again in the new week ahead.”

Malis suggests that employers can additionally inspire positive corporate mood through initiatives such as competitive organisational walking challenges and providing access to on-demand health programmes – such as yoga. 

“Another great and effective gesture is the distribution of internal newsletters or other messaging strategies on healthy eating, how to identify stress in your life, and how to neutralise it,” continues Malis. “These activities should ideally be carried out on a regular basis. If someone does not feel like they need support at the time, these weekly calls or monthly updates can ensure that employees receive support in case of a future emergency or need.”

The mental health of employees is likely to be one of the most important objectives for organisations over the next several decades. Over time these initiatives will require a new sense of care, engagement, and strategy by senior level management, as the total lifecycle of employment will be heavily based on employee mental health. 

“Rather than viewing this as an insurmountable challenge, it should be seen as an opportunity to be inspired and to bring new, creative thinking, difference, and action into the workplace,” concludes Malis. 

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