Since years now, the focus of L&D teams has been employee training and competency development and capability building. But more recently, that focus has experienced a subtle shift towards mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.
In fact, mental health and wellbeing support have been oft-heard words, especially in the corporate world considering what a massive upheaval the past year has been (and continues to be in some countries). L&D too has laid renewed stress on training to build resilience and manage anxiety in particular among employees.
While COVID-19 is a physical illness, it has hit mental health real hard too across the world. According to a survey by the World Health Organization (WHO) in October last, the pandemic has disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide even as the demand for mental health is increasing. The survey covered 130 countries and has provided the first global data showing the destructive effects of COVID-19 on access to mental health services.
Another global survey undertaken by Qualtrics in the early days of the pandemic had revealed that more than 44% of those surveyed had said that their mental health had declined due to the new workstyles.
This is hardly surprising. Afterall, world over, the workforce has been battling uncertainty, joblessness and so many other feelings alongside fear of the infection which has raised stress levels like never before. To add to it, the line between personal and professional lives has blurred and a lack of social interactions has further taken a toll on the mental health of employees.
While many organizations may have had employee wellness programs in place, the pandemic brought to the fore an urgent need to offer training to address mental health problems and increase resilience. It is, in fact, now also clear that in order to increase competency among the workforce, it is imperative that L&D teams first focus on solving mental health issues, so that learners are stress-free and open-minded to accept any other kind of training.
Here’s how L&D can play a key role in addressing mental health and wellbeing in the workplace:
- Building wellness programs into L&D sessions
One of the simplest ways by which L&D can influence employee wellbeing in a positive manner is by training them on the importance of mental wellbeing in the workplace, and ensuring that there is no stigma or shame attached to it. Whether this could take the form of one-off training sessions, elaborate mental health programs in the workplace, modules on work-related stress management or other mental wellness courses for employees is something that L&D teams can decide as per requirements of their particular workforce. A mental health professional needs to be involved or consulted at important touch points as required.
- Promoting L&D to enhance employee competency
It’s a known fact that oftentimes the more engaged an employee is with her work, the more productive she tends to be. Staying engaged is also one way of taking the mind off mental stress and anxiety. Besides, more engagement levels could also be a sign of stronger mental wellbeing. Therefore, it is up to L&D to address employees’ wellbeing problems simply by implementing regular training programmes which will have an automatic effect on wellbeing as an added bonus.
When motivated in the right manner with the right kind of learning initiatives, employees will be able to work more consistently as they strive to achieve their own personal goals alongside organizational goals. They will experience a major mental boost by knowing that they can enhance their own skills and learn to perform different tasks to potentially further their careers (while also helping in the development of their organization).
- Training managers to offer support to team members
Even though there has been a growing conversation surrounding mental health and wellbeing at work, many managers do not know how they can help a team member who is struggling. L&D programs should be targeted towards equipping managers to know the steps they can take to facilitate conversation and make themselves approachable for their subordinates.
Though it may not be an overnight process for managers to bring about change single-handedly, they can still try to take the pressure off individuals by offering proactive support to manage any issues. This way they can strive to create mentally-well workplaces.
Today, there are eLearning courses and material available online from leading learning content providers that can be leveraged by L&D teams in the best possible manner.
Plethora offers comprehensive plans that provide seminal learning across domains, including Health and Wellness that can guide employees on how to stay productive and motivated in their jobs.
Get in touch with our learning content experts to learn more about how Plethora can help boost the mental health and well-being of your employees and in turn improve their competency.