Annual mental health check-ins: A new standard in HR practices

Annual mental health check-ins: A new standard in HR practices

As employers, we have a responsibility to support the mental health of our employees. This is not only due to the increasing awareness of mental health issues, but also because employers are recognizing the impact of mental health on employee productivity, engagement, and overall company success. 

One new practice that has emerged in the world of HR is the implementation of annual mental health check-ins. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of annual mental health check-ins and how they can become a new standard in HR practices.

Firstly, it is important to understand what an annual mental health check-in entails. It is a one-on-one meeting between an employee and their manager to discuss their mental well-being. This check-in can take place in person or virtually and can be structured as a formal or informal conversation. The purpose of this check-in is to create a safe and supportive environment for employees to openly talk about any mental health challenges they may be facing.

Imagine you have a car you depend on but don’t take care of. You fill it with gas and drive it every day, but never change the oil, rotate the tires, or add coolant or other fluids. When the “check engine” light illuminates, you just keep driving. More warning lights come on, but you ignore them. After all, the car has been going for years without any serious problems. Why shouldn’t it keep running forever?

Many of us treat our minds the same way. We use them every day, and fill them up with experiences (both positive and negative) but otherwise take them for granted. We actively ignore problem thoughts and behaviours, assuming they’ll just go away or somehow take care of themselves. Unfortunately, like a poorly maintained car, neglecting your employees' mental health can result in an eventual breakdown.

What are the benefits?

Creates a culture of open communication and trust in the workplace: By regularly checking in with employees, managers are showing that they care about their well-being and are willing to listen and support them. This can help employees feel more comfortable discussing their mental health and seeking help when needed. It also sends the message that mental health is a priority in the company, reducing the stigma surrounding mental health struggles.

Can help identify any potential issues early on: Just like an annual physical check-up, a mental health check-in can catch any warning signs or red flags before they escalate into a bigger problem. This can prevent employees from reaching a point of burnout or experiencing a mental health crisis. By addressing these concerns early on, companies can save on costs associated with absenteeism, turnover, and decreased productivity.

Help foster a positive work environment: When employees feel supported and heard, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated in their work. This can lead to increased productivity, creativity, and overall job satisfaction. It also shows that the company values their employees beyond just their work performance, creating a sense of loyalty and commitment.

Help identify any gaps in mental health resources and support within the company: Through these conversations, managers can gain insight into what employees may need regarding mental health resources, such as access to therapy or stress management workshops. This can allow companies to make necessary changes and investments to support their employees' mental well-being better.

Great opportunity for managers to learn how to better support their team members: By having open and honest conversations about mental health, managers can gain a better understanding of their employees' needs and how to provide appropriate support. This can also improve the overall relationship between managers and employees, leading to a more positive and productive work dynamic.

What do we talk about and how safe is it?

We’ve all heard the saying, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” and the same goes for check-ins. Nothing that is said during a check-in or subsequent therapy session is reported back to the employer. Some things that can be discussed are: 

  • Physical factors like sleep, exercise, hydration and nutrition
  • Mental factors like mindset, work-life balance and coping strategies
  • Social factors like support structures (family, friends, workplace and coworkers) and group activities
  • How stress accumulation can impact a person’s physical well-being, mood and cognitive function
  • The benefits of receiving professional mental health counselling and therapy and how it works

Here are some steps HR can take to support mental health check-ins in the workplace:

Empathy comes first: Fostering a culture of empathy is the first step in providing employees with a healthy work environment. There are a variety of ways HR managers can bring empathy into their work. Having regular check-ins with your team members can go a long way. A “How are you feeling?” followed by active listening can make all the difference in someone’s day. Simply asking what could make things easier for a team and following through can provide them the space they need to feel listened to and understood.

Set a date: Schedule a casual check-in with your teams, allot time for it and don’t take it lightly. There will always be time for meetings and reviews but ensuring your employees are doing well as individuals is of utmost importance to an HR.

Offer mental health resources: Offering resources such as counselling, therapy, or mental health hotlines can provide employees with the support they need to manage their mental health. The Manahverse is the perfect tool to ensure employees get reminders of their check-ins to ensure it is a priority. 

Annual mental health check-ins are a new standard in HR practices that can greatly benefit both employees and companies. By creating a culture of open communication, identifying potential issues early on, fostering a positive work environment, and improving employee support, companies can see a positive impact on their bottom line and overall company success.