A mental health crisis is coming – here's how HR can help

53% of businesses plan to offer access to remote health options in 2021

A mental health crisis is coming – here's how HR can help

We may be emerging from the COVID-19 chaos, but another global pandemic has been silently brewing for months now. Mental health in Canada is on the decline, as more and more employees report feeling burned out and fed up. A recent report from mercer found that Canadian employers are pivoting towards more authentic wellbeing plans in order to stem the inevitable fallout – with 53% of businesses planning to offer access to remote health options and 50% of leaders training managers to spot signs of mental fatigue.

HRD spoke to Daniel Imbeault, talent strategy partner at Mercer, who explained how HR leaders can help their employees now in order to futureproof their mental wellbeing.

Read more: Will working from home hurt your career?

“Throughout the pandemic, digital health came into its own,” he told HRD. “Some employers added telemedicine benefits midyear as the use of virtual healthcare exploded and around half of Canadian employers expanded digital wellness as a result of the pandemic.

“It’s heartening to see one in three companies have understanding employees’ mental health on their agendas for the year ahead and 64% of Canadian companies plan to add benefits to directly address mental or emotional health issues. Prioritizing health and wellbeing will need to continue beyond the pandemic. 2020 has highlighted the fact that now is the time to make health, wellbeing and flexibility priorities within organizations.

“The approach will need to be intersectional, and business will need to prioritize HR transformation. Thus, HR can move away from serving an operational function into a strategic role. This will allow them to focus on improving the employee experience by becoming a more people-centred function that places a premium on employee interactions.”

Moving further into 2021, it’s clear that employer priorities have shifted. As Mercer uncovered in their research, 64% of HR leaders believe COVID-19 will continue to impact their businesses negatively.

Read more: Is all-remote the future of work?

“Unprecedented economic and health challenges combined with a reckoning on social inequality and racial justice, it’s no wonder Canadian companies are focused on grappling with immediate priorities,” added Imbeault.

“As we move forward, investing in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) analytics will be Canadian companies’ top goal for 2021, followed by defining future workforce needs, energizing the employee experience and reinventing flexibility. Recent events have also increased the urgency for improved health and wellbeing benefits for employees.

“While 2021 will see companies transition from a “return to normal” phase to a “reinvention” phase, seeing that journey as a long-term endeavour will require relinquishing the crisis mindset. Doing so will make the year ahead one of sustainability and productive recovery.”

Looking for more authentic ways to support your employees in 2021? Here’s how to lead when your team is tired and jaded.

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