The beer industry has been slow to recognize the challenges to employee mental health posed by its unique set of characteristics. Any job can be stressful, but mix in long hours in industrial work spaces and routine and frequent access to alcohol and it is easy to see how mental health and substance use issues can arise.
Failing to address and protect employee mental health causes substantial loss in productivity and ultimately revenue. Beyond the importance of helping to support valuable members of your team, studies routinely demonstrate that money spent on addressing common mental health issues returns a substantial value in terms of improved employee health, productivity, and retention.
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Openly Discuss Wellness And Mental Health
For too long, issues related to mental health, anxiety, and depression have been relegated to the shadows with many employers and employees fearful of discussing them. This has led to a stigmatization of these issues and a reluctance to help address them, all of which negatively impact employee health and the company’s fitness. Bringing these critical issues into the light helps employees understand that their employer cares for their well-being and creates a supportive environment. This begins at the top and owners and managers should not be afraid to discuss the state of their own mental health and any efforts they undertake to help sustain themselves.
Management should also encourage employees to take their vacation time instead of deferring or not using it. Studies routinely demonstrate that employees who take extended breaks from work return refreshed and are more creative and productive. While employees might initially bristle at attempts to limit their ability to roll over vacation days into the next year, be sure to communicate why such a policy is in place and the value of taking time away from work.
Train Managers And Supervisors To Recognize Signs
While it is important to build a space in which employees feel safe and supported in speaking with management about their mental health concerns, it should not be incumbent on the employees to always shoulder that burden. Breweries should regularly train people in supervisory positions to recognize signs of emotional distress, substance use, and other common mental health concerns so that they can be proactive in assisting their team members. Responses may be as simple as offering an employee a break to relieve stress or engaging other resources to help develop a more targeted plan.
Promote Available Resources
Companies can also use resources such as internal newsletters to encourage greater communication about mental health. Promote any available mental health benefits and community resources in these communications and employ them frequently, such as on a monthly basis. Managers and owners should also openly discuss the importance of emotional and mental health when talking about hiring and recruiting, which informs prospective employees that the company values the subject and provides an inclusive and supportive workspace. Work with outside and local organizations to help sponsor and promote mental health in workshops held during working hours.
There are apps dedicated to assisting people with sleep and stress management that can be offered to employees at discounted rates or for free. In addition, many companies provide separate spaces in the form of meditation or yoga rooms or simply quiet environments where employees can take time to themselves to reset when needed.
Offer Mental Health Coverage
Companies should provide mental health coverage as part of its health care options for employees. Several items are required as part of federal laws on health care, including providing behavioral health treatment, such as psychotherapy and counseling, mental and behavioral health inpatient service, and substance use disorder treatment. When reviewing what coverage to provide to your staff, consider all the options and the value that offering more than basic insurance might bring to your company.