Supporting The Mental Well-Being Of Employees

What can businesses do better to help employees cope with the stresses of work?

As remote and hybrid work arrangements become the norm for more companies in Singapore, some employees are experiencing an increasing amount of stress from having to navigate the challenge of working from home.

According to a survey by software company Oracle, nearly seven in 10 residents in Singapore said 2021 has been the most stressful year at work, with over 50 per cent struggling more with their mental health at work as compared to last year.

However, businesses appear to be changing their attitudes towards mental health. The study showed that 77 per cent of respondents felt their companies were more concerned about their mental well-being now as compared to before the pandemic.

At the recent launch of the inaugural Workplace Mental Well-Being Campaign, Senior Minister of State Zaqy Mohamad said: “We should capitalise on this momentum and awareness, to normalise support for employees’ mental well-being across all companies.”

The campaign saw the launch of a human resource (HR) playbook featuring initiatives that HR professionals and employers in Singapore have successfully implemented to support their employees’ mental wellness.

If you are an employer looking for ways to effectively support your employees during this challenging period, here are some things you can consider doing.

Appoint mental wellness champions

These Champions can help to raise employees’ awareness on mental health conditions through events such as lunchtime talks and workshops. These programmes could cover topics such as stress management, emotional regulation, or relaxation techniques.

Employers can also tap on the Health Promotion Board’s (HPB) existing mental well-being programmes under the Workplace Outreach Wellness (WOW) Package or Workplace Safety and Health Council’s Total WSH Programme.

Provide access to counselling

Counselling services allow employees to speak to a professional about work and/or non-work-related challenges. To ensure anonymity, employers should assure employees that their conversations with the service provider will not be disclosed to the organisation without consent. Companies can also consider extending the scope of their employees’ healthcare coverage to include mental well-being programmes, as well as mental health consultations and treatments. Businesses can find counselling services through the Employee Assistance Programmes.

Have open and regular conversations

Managers should conduct regular check-ins with employees to assess their state of mental health and review their workloads. It is important that supervisors assure their subordinates that any sensitive information shared during these sessions will be kept confidential. Teams can also come together to share their experiences relating to mental health challenges and the possible ways to overcome them as well as potential coping mechanisms.

Enterprises can also leverage HPB’s Mental Health Workplace programmes to equip managers and HR personnel with skills to be supportive leaders at the workplace.

Review the mental well-being of the organisation

Employers can conduct surveys to understand the general state of mental well-being of employees and the challenges they face at work. One resource they can utilise for such surveys is iWorkHealth a confidential online self-administered assessment tool.

Once completed, measures should be implemented to address the findings and track their effectiveness in improving the mental health of employees.

Implement and encourage flexible work arrangements

Flexi-work arrangements can help employees better cope with both their work and personal commitments.

Flexible time arrangements such as staggered working hours and compressed work weeks will also allow employees to adjust their daily work hours according to their personal schedules. Employers can refer to this guide for more information on how they can implement effective flexible work schemes.

Establish a work-life balance policy

A clearly communicated policy provides clarity to employees and their supervisors on the norms when it comes to after-hours work communication. This is particularly relevant for employees who are working remotely, where the lines between home and work are blurred.

For non-urgent messages and emails sent outside work hours, senders could include a header stating that no immediate response is expected. Meanwhile, if employees are required to work after-hours, supervisors should consider giving time-off for employees to have adequate rest and recharge. Sufficient rest outside of work hours will help employees diminish the chances of burnout and improve their productivity.