Good behavioral health is central to a thriving workplace culture
The coronavirus pandemic is taking a toll on the American worker’s financial, physical, and behavioral health unlike any event in recent history. In a 2020 survey measuring workforce attitudes toward mental health, nearly 70 percent of workers admitted that the pandemic is the most stressful time they have ever experienced in their career.1
As the nation’s reckoning with the coronavirus continues, the topic of behavioral health is beginning to take a prominent place in our discourse. The timing is apropos though the discussion is still difficult for many – even amidst a global health crisis, behavioral health stigmas persist.
As business leaders and owners, you have a unique opportunity to help shape your organization’s attitude about behavioral health during this crisis. A workplace culture that standardizes and normalizes mental health support may see an increase in use of resources like their employee assistance program (EAP), both now and in the future. That matters because most EAPs support workers through personal and work-related issues before those issues begin to negatively affect their job performance.
There’s never been a more critical or opportune time to tackle the topic of behavioral health in relation to your workplace culture and increase utilization of EAP resources.
Leaders must drive EAP awareness
A workplace culture that promotes and values behavioral health starts with C-suite buy-in. When executives and their leadership teams prioritize a company’s EAP, it increases use of the program throughout the organization. Standardizing your organization’s EAP as a smart, practical resource to help manage work and home stressors amidst the coronavirus pandemic goes a long way toward helping employees understand its immediate and long-term value.
For it to work, leaders must proactively promote the EAP. Remind your employees that EAP is not limited to special circumstances like a pandemic or traumatic workplace or home-life experience. Discuss EAP during regular employee communication such as onboarding and in company newsletters. Doing so sends the message that your company regards behavioral health as a central component to a thriving workplace culture.
Give employees more options
New EAP plan designs that include telehealth, more visits and richer benefits will help your employees achieve better behavioral health outcomes. Removing barriers to accessing EAP can improve the likelihood of engaging the EAP. It’s about giving your team options.
Additionally, find ways to connect behavioral and physical health benefits, as well as non-medical benefits (e.g., financial planning programs, tuition reimbursement, work-from-home). These work together to contribute to positive well-being and a healthier workforce.
If you’re not ready to add to your current EAP, what can you do? Explore ways to educate your workforce on your existing EAP benefits. The goal is to keep your EAP plan top of mind for your team.
The best EAP and the most robust engagement won’t be effective if your company is not willing to adapt to your employee’s coronavirus-related needs in real time.
- Be strategic about your coronavirus response as an organization, but be ready to make impromptu decisions based on individual needs as they arise
- Be creative and open to new ideas inside and outside of your organization
- Encourage leadership and team members to share what old and new systems are working and what needs improvement
- Be on the lookout for anxiety, burnout and stress that manifest in unusual ways – it’s easier to spot when working side-by-side, but may not be immediately recognizable with more staff working at home
- Ask employees how they feel and be open about your own feelings
- Make sure employees working at home don’t feel isolated from each other – suggest an occasional virtual lunch or schedule regular one-on-one meetings
You can make a positive difference
To support you in building a behavioral health benefit plan that’s right for your company, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the entire Blue system hastaken a closer look at behavioral health and the impact of COVID-19.
You have EAP and other behavioral health options and we’re here to help you discover them.
1Ginger, “COVID-19: Four Radical Changes in U.S. Worker Mental Health Needs,” 2020.