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As we’ve recently passed the one-year anniversary of the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to remind ourselves that the process of recovery is more than what may meet the eye. In addition to the challenging recovery process of our physical health, healthcare systems, and economy, we must recognize the importance of mental health and well-being.
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While for the past year the focus has remained primarily on the physical health of the global population, as we adjust to this “new normal,” it’s critical to emphasize mental health. The past year has challenged us to rapidly adjust to unique and uncommon situations. Whether it be working from home, or not having the ability to interact with family and friends as we’re used to, the COVID pandemic has taken a toll on life as we once knew it.
We’ve all been in similar boats over the past year. While we can’t compare one another’s pandemic experiences apples to apples, it’s important to be aware that we’ve all had a challenging time over the year.
This sentiment not only applies to yourself, and your family and friends, but also to your employees and coworkers. Paying close attention to the physical and mental well-being of your employees is more important now than ever before. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll in April 2020 found that 45% of adults claim that anxiety and stress related to COVID-19 have had a negative impact on their mental health.
While we’ve begun to see improvements in the recent COVID rates, it’s critical to remain aware and cautious of proper protective practices. Ensuring that your employees feel they are in a safe work environment involves both their physical and mental well-being. Feeling as if they are unsafe and that their work environment poses health risks may likely lead to stress about whether to continue putting themselves at risk or to risk leaving their work environment and losing their financial stability.
Ideally, physical well-being wouldn’t be a deciding factor in an employee choosing to leave their workplace, but it’s not impossible. As companies begin discussions regarding how and when to bring employees back to the office, it’s critical to consider not only the success of the business but also the feelings of your team.
Right now many businesses are questioning how to approach the COVID vaccine in the workplace. While not all employees may be interested and willing to receive the vaccine, requiring employees to receive the vaccine may improve the physical health of your team over time.
It’s a challenging decision whether to prioritize the opinions of those who are interested in protecting their physical health by receiving the vaccine, or those that are not willing to take the risk of receiving such a recently developed vaccine. Either way, both viewpoints pose an important challenge in the prioritization of the physical health of team members.
Another way to encourage employee physical well-being is by ensuring that your business offers affordable health benefits. Health insurance doesn’t have to be as expensive as many people often think. Offering your employees a comprehensive plan to cover them in the event of health needs helps promote respect within your organization in addition to keeping your workforce healthy and available.
Offering health benefits to your employees also helps promote their investment in preventative care. Only approximately 50% of Americans without health insurance got annual checkups last year. Maintaining good preventative care helps avoid more serious health problems in the future. Early diagnosis and preventative care can eliminate the need for unaffordable necessary care down the line.
Not only is it important to ensure that employees are offered accessible medical coverage, but ensuring that they take advantage of some amount of coverage is both in their best interest and yours. An unhealthy workplace is not a place where workers want to be and are less likely to execute productive work.
While physical health is, of course, a top priority in most workplaces, the importance of mental health should go hand in hand with it. As previously mentioned in the statistic from a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, nearly half of adult Americans claim to be struggling with mental health issues as a result of the ongoing COVID pandemic.
It’s important to note that mental health issues hardly began with the onset of the pandemic. According to research by Johns Hopkins Medicine, nearly 26% of Americans ages 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. That being said, Mental Health America claims that 46% of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their life.
While some workforces functioned on a remote basis before the onset of the pandemic, for many others working from home has played a huge role in the state of their mental health. For many, working remotely means being away from their coworkers, friends, and in some cases, family.
There are a variety of opportunities to combat the challenges of mental health, particularly as a result of the ongoing pandemic. Some suggestions include the following:
- Encourage team members to take time off when needed for mental or physical health concerns. It’s also beneficial to attempt to encourage team members to be open with their feelings as much as possible within their comfort zones.
- Offer medical healthcare benefits that include access to telehealth visits and mental health services.
- Maintain regularly scheduled check-ins and opportunities for face to face interactions such as weekly Zoom coffee chats or office hours
Benefits of Maintaining Employee Well-Being
Overall, there are significant benefits to investing in your employees’ well-being. Not only is there the obvious upside of promoting health within your team, but healthy, happy employees are more likely to execute productive work overtime.
Think about it this way, an employee without access to affordable health coverage may choose to skip their annual physical for multiple consecutive years. Had they had access to see a doctor at an earlier time, they may have been able to prevent a health concern or injury that is now preventing them from coming to work.
Additionally, employees that are supported by events and access to resources to combat mental health, as mentioned above, are more likely to be positive, engaged, and determined to do their best at their place of work.
Investing in employee health and well-being is critical to the ongoing success of most businesses. Offering a comprehensive health coverage plan to employees not only helps attract and retain talent but supports their general well-being.
Employees that are taken good care of are more likely to in turn invest themselves in your business. If you’re looking for a great health care benefits plan to offer your employees, look no further. At SBMA Benefits our goal is to provide affordable health coverage to help keep your employees healthy and promote their overall well-being. If you’re interested in offering SBMA benefits to your team, call or contact us today.