Whether you manage a team of casual workers, part-time staff, or salaried employees, you need to make your team’s mental health a priority. When your employees are stocking the shelves at your store, they might be studying for their degree, taking care of their family, or even working another job.
And on top of that, they could be struggling with depression or anxiety.
Health and safety in the workplace should go beyond extra hand washing or wearing a face mask. Here are 19 practical ways to ensure the mental health of your hourly workers.
1. Educate yourself about the law
According to the Department of Labor, nearly 1 in 5 Americans may experience some form of mental illness each year. Your local government might have specific laws about employee’s rights when it comes to mental health. Review your local legislation for additional resources about different aspects of dealing with mental health issues in the workplace.
2. Recognize the signs
You host training to learn how to clock in and out of work, but do you have training about mental health in the workplace?
Invest in formal mental health training for everyone in your business. And look for common signs that someone on your team might need some help. For example, a high level of distraction, unusual tardiness, or a change in personality could be a signal that you need to have a conversation with your employee. You never know what’s going on in their head until you talk to them.
3. Develop a positive work environment
When business is booming — or you’re struggling to make ends meet — tensions run high. As a manager, you’re likely pulled in multiple directions. But remember that your employees look to you to set the tone of the workplace. To ensure your company culture creates a positive work environment, focus on feedback and communication.
4. Start a conversation
If you half-heartedly ask your staff how they’re doing — or worse, you don’t ask at all — you’re missing out on an important way to ensure the mental health of your employees.
Transparency and communication are crucial to helping any of your employees with mental health issues. If you’re worried about what to say, consult your HR team or other professional resources for help.
5. Focus on your employee
Your employees are the heart of your business. As a manager, it’s your job to support them. It’s easy to avoid conversations if it makes you feel more comfortable, but is that best for your employee? Keep the focus on your employee — what resources do they need, who do they need to talk to, and what can you do to make them feel supported?
6. Listen and take action
If an hourly employee has trusted and confided in you about their mental health issues, you need to show that you understand by listening to learn. After you have listened, assure them that your number one priority is their wellbeing. Even if you received training, and your hourly employee tells you what they need, you might not have the answers right away. That’s ok! Let your employee know that you’ll get back to them with a plan of action.
7. Train your managers
Just as your managers receive training in first aid or harassment, they should also be trained in handling mental health issues. Coordinate with an external agency to provide comprehensive training for your team. And to make it even more effective, consider making this an annual mandatory training.
8. De-stigmatize mental health conversations
While some of your staff may already seek professional help, others may be battling internally alone. De-stigmatize mental health conversations by providing training not only to your managers but also to your staff. That training can help your hourly employees identify any signs and symptoms of mental health issues. Equip your hourly workers with information about how to get help if they have specific symptoms while maintaining a culture that emphasizes the importance of mental health just as much as physical health.
9. Keep your hourly employees informed
Your team might not be in the same place at the same time. But use all-hands meetings or your communication app to share regular updates or resources related to mental health and all aspects of health and safety in the workplace. Use this opportunity to reinforce your company policies and who to talk to if anyone is experiencing difficulties.
10. Bring in an advisor
Depending on the size of your business, you might be able to have someone on staff full-time who specializes in employee mental health. However, most small teams don’t have the resourcing for a full-time specialist. Instead, you still can make resources available to your staff. For example, you could arrange a lunch-and-learn session for your hourly employees.
11. Assess your current policies
Where are your current policies — and are they working? Create a task force to survey your team and review your employees’ engagement, happiness, and wellbeing. Ask questions in relation to whether your employees feel supported by management, if staff have the resources they need, and if your team feels the company is doing their best to encourage employee wellbeing. Don’t forget to ask open-ended questions, which enable your hourly employees to give quality feedback.
12. Assist in keeping a healthy work-life balance
According to a recent survey of more than 1,400 shift workers, flexible work schedules are the top perk of working an hourly job. Enable your staff to swap shifts and choose preferred working schedules to help them maintain a healthy work-life balance. When staff take their lunch breaks, encourage them to do something for themselves. Go for a walk, read a book, or check in on their other responsibilities outside of work.
13. Include mental health coverage
If you offer benefits like health insurance coverage to your hourly employees, then ensure the coverage you choose includes provisions for mental health. You should make sure that mental health provisions are just as accessible as provisions for physical health problems.
14. Communicate a zero-tolerance policy
Your business should be a safe place for all your employees. You need to ensure that you send out the message that intimidation or bullying of people with mental health issues will not be tolerated. Have a clear policy about how such behavior will be dealt with as soon as it is brought to your attention — then make that policy easily accessible by all of your staff.
15. Schedule an open “office” time
When you’re looking for new strategies to drive sales, manage leave requests, and fill empty shifts, you might not have time for an open-door policy all the time. But make your staff feel welcomed with designated “office hours” when your employees can come and speak to you about the issues they’re experiencing.
16. Support a mental health day
If you offer paid leave to your hourly employees, you can encourage them to take one of their personal days as a mental health wellbeing day. Or, better yet, create a separate leave type for a mental health day. Encourage your staff to spend time with their family, enjoy a day outside, or even just rest. Employees don’t need to specify why they’re taking this paid day off. It’s just a way for them to recharge — and for your business to show it supports all employees.
17. Include your hourly employees in your wellness benefit programs
Offering benefits to employees can be costly and most small businesses can’t afford to extend all of their benefits to hourly staff. However, instead of offering the full benefits package to your hourly staff, you could offer parts of a wellness benefits program. For example, you can provide a discounted gym membership or a team social activity once a month to your hourly employees.
18. Identify triggers
Triggers. It’s a word that might make some people roll their eyes. But triggers can be words, actions, or even situations that exacerbate an employee’s mental health issue. Just as you should look out for changes in your staff’s behavior, also keep track of common triggers for your staff. For example, triggers might be setting unrealistic deadlines and expectations or asking staff to spend long periods of time working alone.
19. Keep in contact
If your hourly employee is unable to attend work due to mental health issues, you should make the effort to keep in touch with them. A phone call, text, or video chat — remind them that you’re there to support them.
Help your staff stay healthy and thrive
Your employees are likely juggling multiple responsibilities — both at work and at home. Throw a global pandemic on top of that, and their anxiety might be on the rise.
Thankfully, there are simple tools to help you make work a little less stressful for your staff. Try a free trial of Deputy to give your staff an easy, flexible way to schedule a shift. And at the same time, you can help keep them healthy and thriving.