Social and Emotional Wellness at Work; How Does Your Entity Measure Up?

The adoption of workplace social and emotional health programs skyrocketed over the past two years due to heightened visibility during the pandemic when remote and high-risk work environments caused or exacerbated employees’ psychological and behavioral health issues. 

As lines continue to blur between work and home life, personal stressors such as financial strain, childcare concerns, and other obstacles can also weigh heavily on the minds of your staff and colleagues. In addition, the effects of stress and trauma can be significantly compounded if an individual does not have stable, positive relationships at work.

Providing social and emotional health programs and resources or enhancing your entity’s existing offerings can make a world of difference. In addition, employees who actively foster social and emotional health within their organizations can help nurture an inclusive and positive culture that will yield significant benefits over time. Below are a few examples to consider:

Recommendations for Improving Social and Emotional Health at Work

1) Be a model for the social and emotional culture you want to see in your organization. Some of your coworkers will prefer to remain private and keep to themselves while managing difficult situations. However, if welcomed, take an active interest in your colleagues’ lives and overall well-being. Engage in routine wellness checks and provide appropriate levels of support when needed to help build trust and provide an emotional safety net for future times of crisis.

2) Make it easy for employees to know whom to talk to or where to go to access social and emotional health resources. Time and time again, studies reveal that what employees want the most in the workplace is training and more easily accessible information about where to go or whom to ask about mental health support. Ensure that all employees understand how they can access emotional support tools and resources within your organization; resources can include an appointed delegate who is equipped to guide personnel to these resources.

3) Establish an employee assistance program. Organizations will typically utilize an employee assistance program to support workplace social and emotional health. Extending these benefits to immediate family members can increase employee effectiveness and increase utilization. In addition, form a working group to help identify needs for more tailored solutions that will best serve your entity’s needs; members of this working group can also assist in implementing these resources, serving as program stewards.

4) Establish a peer-to-peer program. Peer-to-Peer programs have proven effective in providing employees with a productive outlet to discuss social and emotional issues they might be dealing with. In addition, peers can often empathize with their colleagues’ feelings because their experiences are often similar.

Many of us spend a significant percentage of our lives at work—and if someone is struggling with social and emotional concerns, it can be challenging to put them aside and try to ignore them while on the job. However, by implementing the recommendations outlined above, you can help your colleagues and staff be the best versions of themselves— in the office, at home, and beyond.

Have questions about social and emotional health and wellness within your public entity? Contact your Risk Management professional for more information.