19 Ways to Ensure the Mental Health of Your Hourly Employees
According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Although there are many more mental illnesses than depression, all employers should pay attention to the World Health Organization’s findings. This is because it is highly likely that some of your employees will be affected by mental health issues during their employment with your business.
Taking steps to ensure your employees’ mental health makes sense whether your business employs, salaried or hourly workers. The World Health Organization reports that depression cost the global economy $1 trillion each year. The report goes on to say that every dollar that is spent providing treatment for depression and anxiety will result in a $4 better return, in relation to improved health and the ability to work.
Ensuring the mental health of your hourly employees will result in an increased level of efficiency and productivity. Health and safety in the workplace should go beyond the physical aspects of wellbeing and should also extend to helping with mental health issues. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to develop and encourage a positive work culture in relation to your employees’ mental health.
Here are 19 practical ways to ensure the mental health of your hourly employees:
1. Educate yourself about the law
The Department of Labor advises that almost one in five Americans will experience some type of mental health illness each year. You should familiarize yourself with legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and other relevant laws. Visit the Department of Labor’s website for additional resources about different aspects of dealing with mental health issues in the workplace.
2. Recognize the signs
You should invest in formal mental health training for everyone in your business. However, even before this training takes place, you can use the things you observe and your intuition to identify whether one of your hourly employees is experiencing mental health issues. Signs to look out for include:
- A high level of distraction.
- An unusual level of tardiness.
- A very obvious change in personality.
The signs above should be a signal that you need to have a conversation with your employee, as opposed to immediately chastising them.
3. Develop a positive work environment
You should encourage a workplace that values constructive feedback and appreciation. Ensure that you maintain high levels of engagement with your hourly employees to combat negativity. Give employee appreciation gifts when your hourly employees have exceeded their targets.
4. Start a conversation
If your hourly employee is having mental health issues and it is affecting their work, they may feel that they need to bring it to your attention. As a good leader, you would have already facilitated a workplace culture where your hourly employees can speak to you and management in an open way.
This type of workplace culture will be crucial in encouraging an employee with mental health issues to open up about their struggles.
Unfortunately, the stigma around mental health issues may make it difficult for your hourly employees to confide in you or management. In this instance, you will need to implement techniques that you have learnt in training to approach your employee in relation to this sensitive subject.
You need to encourage a culture of communication without judgement. Forming judgements is part of being human, however, you must try to avoid allowing these judgments to influence your responses to the employee.
5. Focus on your employee
If your hourly employee has confided in you about their mental health issues, you need to find out how you can help by asking them. Although you could be well-intentioned, you may not have the necessary solutions. If your employee has been dealing with mental health issues for a while, they will be in the best position to let you know what they need. If they are not sure about what they need, you can refer them to a mental health professional.
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 what is happening by listening and making them feel heard. After you have listened to them you need to assure them that you will take the necessary action to safeguard their wellbeing. Even if you received training, and your hourly employee tells you what they need, you may not have the answers straight away. Avoid making promises that you will find hard to keep. You should inform your employee that you will seek advice from an HR advisor and get back to them with a plan of action.
7. Train your managers
Just as your managers receive training in first aid, they should also be trained in handling mental health issues. You should identify an external agency to provide the training. The more managers that are trained in mental health, the easier it will be to embed a culture of positive mental health in your workplace. Your hourly employees may find it easier to talk to different managers, so all managers should be trained on how to ensure the mental health of your employees.
8. Inform your employees about mental health risks
You should provide training to help your hourly employees identify any signs and symptoms of mental health issues. Unlike physical symptoms, some of your employees may try to push their mental health issues to the side or ignore them altogether. You should equip your hourly workers with information about how to get help if they have specific symptoms.
9. Keep your hourly employees informed
Although it may be challenging to get your entire hourly workforce in the same place at the same time because of shift work, you should arrange regular team meetings to talk about all aspects of health and safety in the workplace. Use this opportunity to reinforce the message that your employees can talk to you if they are experiencing difficulties. Answer questions around how your business will deal with mental issues in an honest way, so your hourly employees will know what to expect if they are in this situation.
10. Bring in an advisor
Dealing with mental health issues is a specialized area of healthcare. Therefore, it would be useful for your hourly employees to receive advice from a qualified mental health professional. It is common for advisers to come and speak to employees during open enrollment for health insurance. If your hourly employees are not entitled to health insurance benefits, then they will be left out of receiving valuable information. To ensure that no employee is left behind in terms of mental health, you could arrange a lunch-and-learn session for your hourly employees.
11. Assess your current policies
You should carry out a review of your business to find out the effect it has on your employees’ happiness and wellbeing. You can create a staff survey and ask questions in relation to whether your employees feel supported by management. You should ask open-ended questions to allow your hourly employees to elaborate on their answers.
12. Assist in keeping a healthy work-life balance
It has been documented that hourly employees can find it difficult to maintain a work-life balance because they are required to work shifts at short notice. This lack of predictability led to some hourly workers feeling like they were not able to disconnect from work and were unable to effectively attend to other areas of their lives.
Predictive scheduling legislation was introduced in some jurisdictions to combat the random nature of hourly work. Employers are liable to pay penalties if they fall foul of predictive scheduling laws.
Download our predictive scheduling e-book to find out how you can become compliant if your business is affected by these laws.
Even if your business does not fall under the umbrella of predictive scheduling legislation, you should make every effort to create shifts that will give your hourly employees the opportunity to have a healthy work-life balance. You should use a staff management tool like Deputy to help you to fairly schedule shifts. Deputy’s range of features includes an overview of all your employees’ shifts even if you have multiple locations.
Sign up for a free trial of Deputy today, to find out how we can help to keep your employees happy with easy-to-use scheduling.
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. You must have a clear policy about how such behavior will be dealt with as soon as it is brought to your attention.
15. Schedule an open ‘office’ time
It may not be possible to have an open door policy at all times. However, you should designate a specific time when your employees can come and speak to you about issues they’re experiencing.
16. Support a mental health day
If you offer paid vacation leave to your hourly employees, you can encourage them to take one of their personal days as a mental health wellbeing day. You can support them by letting them know that they can ask for a mental health day and there will be no judgement. Encouraging employees to take time off for their mental health wellbeing will help to break the stigma and allow them to recharge their batteries.
17. Include your hourly employees in your wellness benefit programs
Offering benefits to employees can be costly. Most small businesses cannot afford to extend their benefits programs 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
Keep an eye out for triggers that can cause or exacerbate mental health issues at work.
These triggers include:
- Expecting your hourly workers to work for long hours with no breaks.
- Setting unrealistic deadlines and expectations.
- Cultivating a working environment that is overly pressurized.
- Working in a poor physical environment.
- Encouraging a culture of poor communication.
- Spending long periods working alone.
- Working relationships are difficult with colleagues and management.
- Supporting hourly employees is not a priority.
- Refusing to offer paid vacation.
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. The aim of this contact is to provide reassurance that you care about their wellbeing, as opposed to just checking on when they will be back at work.
Safeguarding your hourly employees’ mental health will help you to grow a more profitable and harmonious business. Your workplace should be somewhere that your hourly employees feel safe and is free from unnecessary stress.
One of the biggest stresses for the hourly workforce is unpredictable hours. This causes their private lives to be in turmoil because they are unable to plan simple day-to-day tasks. If your business does not have to comply with predictive scheduling laws, you should still make every attempt to schedule your employees in a way that will maximize their work-life balance.
Click on the button below to start your very own trial (no credit card required!) and start building a happier workforce with easy and simple employee scheduling.
The information contained in this article is general in nature and you should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs. Legal and other matters referred to in this article are of a general nature only and are based on Deputy's interpretation of laws existing at the time and should not be relied on in place of professional advice. Deputy is not responsible for the content of any site owned by a third party that may be linked to this article and no warranty is made by us concerning the suitability, accuracy or timeliness of the content of any site that may be linked to this article. Deputy disclaims all liability (except for any liability which by law cannot be excluded) for any error, inaccuracy, or omission from the information contained in this article and any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.