Remember the wonderful story of Olark and their attitude towards the mental health of their employees? The story served as a reminder to us that mental health is a very serious issue and one which cannot be ignored. Well, it’s almost a year since Olark’s positivity went viral and we felt it was time for another reminder about the importance of mental health in the workplace and why it’s a benefit that could make your company stand out from the crowd.
Why don’t sick days cover mental health?
Mental health, even the word ‘mental’ has a certain stigma attached to it that is incredibly hard to shake. For many years, people assumed that those with mental health issues could not function properly within society let alone at work. But the truth is that mental health covers everything from work-related stress to more serious issues such as severe anxiety and manic depression.
Perhaps it is this stigma or employees’ reluctance to broach the subject at work that has led companies to believe that they do not need to include mental health as an acceptable reason for taking sick days from work. Either way, it’s time for a change.
Why mental health is important
Strangely, while the vast majority of people agree that mental health is just as important as physical health, there is still this attitude that people should just grin and bear it. Unfortunately, this is the worst possible action you can take. Mental health issues, just like physical ones, require treatment and whether that’s simple rest and recuperation or therapy is all down to the person in question. But it is not something that can be ignored or ‘worked through’ while in the middle of an important project or a series of client meetings.
Employees who take their mental health seriously and who take time to rest and recover from the stress of work are not only happier in the workplace but also more productive. So rather than assuming that they are losing an employee for a day or two while they take some time to recharge and recuperate, employers should think of the benefits for both the company and the employee.
The best benefit you can give
Now some might argue that it’s money, others may say it’s the holidays, we even suggested that it’s the ability to work remotely, but for each person the best perk of the job is different. However, it’s often the perks you don’t realise you need that are the most beneficial. When things start to get stressful, and the pressure is on to bring in results and lead the company to success, that’s when your employees will understand the true value of having a mental health day that they don’t have to pretend is due to the flu or a long weekend away.
So if that’s the case why do we think it’s such a great benefit to offer candidates? If they don’t realise they’ll need one then it won’t seem such a big deal, will it? In a way, that’s right, but then perhaps we’re looking at this the wrong way.
The reason mental health days are so beneficial is that we should care about our employees and colleagues. We should try our best to remove the stigma attached to mental health issues, and the best way to do so is by talking about it and making mental health discussion the norm. And that makes it a benefit that is truly worthwhile.
It’s good for the employer too
But we’re all in business, and there are other more tangible reasons why such a positive attitude towards mental health is good for the company, and the main one is, of course, brand image. Again we mentioned this before when we spoke about Olark’s story, but it’s worth repeating.
Employer branding is extremely important in this day and age, and the reaction to Olark CEO Ben Congleton’s email to his employee should tell us something. The fact that his email went viral indicates that this is a topic that candidates and employees actually feel very strongly about even if they didn’t realise it before the story broke.
So being the company that cares about your employees’ mental health so much so that you have a specific policy regarding the taking of mental health days will do wonders for your brand image. And employees sharing on social media that they are ‘taking a mental health day to regroup’ will help you build a reputation as a company that cares. And no, despite what you might think, you are not taking advantage. You are taking care of your employee’s mental health and enjoying a few unexpected benefits. There’s nothing wrong with that now, is there?
So perhaps it’s time to rewrite that employment contract or even your job descriptions and let your candidates know that not only do you treat mental health with the importance it deserves but that at your company there’s no stigma regarding mental health issues.
If you are considering realigning your sourcing efforts to include your new mental health policies, then perhaps vsource can help you get started. Drop us a line now or book a demo to see how we can help you bring the best talent onboard.