Digital Technologies Can Improve Employees' Mental Health
The use of social media at work and digital distractions has become a daily issue for both employers and employees. However, for HR departments, the new proliferation of digital content may improve the delivery of certain aspects of corporate wellness programs, especially in the areas of emotional and mental well-being.
Digital will never replace one-on-one, face-to-face counseling provided by a professional, but the amount of online information available to employees coupled with the confidentiality and anonymity that is inherent in digital platforms, can provide employees with much-needed mental health assistance. Offered together, digital and human interaction can lead to improvements in an employee’s mental well-being.
There are several ways HR professionals can utilize the positive aspects of digital technology:
Seek Out Curated Digital Platforms: While plenty of websites and online videos offer medical advice and health-related information, sifting through what is accurate, credible and reliable is an impossible task for both employers and employees. Instead, HR departments should begin to curate digital platforms that ensure employees receive information that is up-to-date, trustworthy and understandable.
Use Technology to Start the Conversation: Employees who watch a video online with another family member can more easily begin a difficult conversation about mental or emotional health. Getting all involved family members to a particular workshop may be challenging, so access to reliable online information and videos, can get the ball rolling.
Look for “Snip-it” Wellness Training: Traditional wellness programs have often included presentations to employees in large conference rooms. Today, many employees do not have the amount of time needed to attend a 30-minute or one-hour program. Additionally, attention spans have shrunk among millennials. Employers can now offer shortened wellness videos or five to 10 minute “snip-its” for employees to digest on their own time during a commute or at home.
Utilize Online Chats: One of the most important things an HR professional can do is normalize employees’ experiences by using new digital tools, like monthly Q & A web chats, to make it clear to employees that if they suffer from a mental health issue, they are not alone and more than likely, a peer or colleague may be suffering from similar issues.
Give Employees What They Want – Online Content: The emerging generation of managers grew up in the digital age. They are more comfortable and open when discussing issues like addiction, LGBT identity and mental health than previous generations These employees want their wellness content driven by their devices.
Lastly, it is imperative to protect the privacy of each employee. Employees should be told that no personal information is captured when they utilize employer digital wellness content. Protecting an employee’s anonymity when accessing sensitive web chats regarding mental health, substance abuse or the like is vital to the success of any mental or emotional wellness initiative.