As companies step up their efforts on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, the “S” – the human impact of doing business – increasingly begins to include the impact of employers on mental health and the well-being of workers.
So says Paula Allen, senior vice president and global leader in research and total wellness at LifeWorks, a Toronto-based provider of digital and in-person wellness solutions. Allen sat down with Cash flow and risk sister publication BenefitsPRO to discuss the growing importance of mental health in conversations around ESG, as well as why boards and investors are pushing companies to consider the well-being of their people. employees.
PRO advantages: Please speak to the growing importance of mental health in conversations around ESG.
Paula Allen: For years, we’ve had very solid data that shows that when an organization supports the mental health and well-being of its employees, it makes a difference in the performance of the business, including the performance of stocks. But sometimes it takes a while for employers to realize the importance of paying attention to the mental health of workers. During the pandemic, employers became aware of this in a huge way.
Even intuitively, managers knew no one was going to get away with it if people weren’t in the right place. So now more and more organizations are focusing on the well-being of their employees. Indeed, a recent survey of CEOs at Deloitte Fortune found that virtually everyone now says there is a need to focus more on the well-being at work that continues well beyond the pandemic. Otherwise, organizations simply won’t have the levels of innovation, creativity, problem solving, and customer service they need to be successful.
PRO advantages: How do boards of directors and investors push companies to take the well-being of their employees into account?
PENNSYLVANIA: Entities that develop ESG reporting frameworks, including the World Economic Forum, the Global Reporting Initiative, and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, are considering formalizing guidelines for disclosures related to worker mental health and well-being, as they are financially important for the sustainability of a business.
It was investors who brought this issue to the attention of ESG framework providers, because although it is an off-balance sheet factor, they realize that the well-being of workers remains an important factor in performance. of the company. At one end of the spectrum, a business’s performance thrives when there is a healthy work environment. On the other end of the spectrum, when there is a toxic environment, the damage from fallout is that no one wants to hit them with a 10-foot pole.
Some companies are now including in their ESG information to investors how they manage the mental health and well-being of workers. These companies know that detailing their efforts in this area is important not only for the investment community, but also for attracting and retaining key talent.
PRO advantages: What are the takeaways for [corporate] leaders?
PENNSYLVANIA: ESG reporting on M (mental health) will arrive. This is not common at the moment, but HR managers and companies should prepare for the possible requirement to disclose what they are doing to improve the mental health and well-being of workers.
For now, the most important thing is to do the right thing for the workers, as their vulnerability to the pandemic will continue to last for some time. Focusing on people’s well-being really makes a difference to their sense of belonging and also to their productivity at work. The good thing is that supporting employee mental health doesn’t have to be expensive.
Here are some key things employers should do:
- Support a sense of belonging: Accept people for who they are and engage them with respect.
- Show recognition: People need to feel that their efforts matter and are appreciated.
- Create a psychologically safe culture: No one should be put down in any way for sharing their thoughts.
- Provide mental health resources: Consider implementing an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or increasing the promotion of the one you have. EAP programs provide confidential mental health and 365x24x7 support for employees and their families.
- Responsible for assistance: Mental health in the workplace is often offered at a modest cost through an EAP. Consultations are generally free through EAPs, for managers facing behavioral and emotional issues in real time.