The R3 Continuum Playbook: Reducing the Stigma: Ways Leaders Can Support Employee Mental Health
In a recent webinar featuring Dr. Tyler Arvig, Associate Medical Director at R3 Continuum, Dr. Arvig addressed a variety of questions on employee mental health, and how leaders can make it easier for employees to request and receive behavioral health support. Dr. Arvig mentioned not only better communication, but more personal and honest conversation with employees, making modeling self-awareness and vulnerability a priority, being creative in balancing the needs of the organization with the needs of the employees, knowing when to pull in experts, and much more.
The full webinar can be found here. The R3 Continuum Playbook is presented by R3 Continuum and is produced by the Minneapolis-St.Paul Studio of Business RadioX®. R3 Continuum is the underwriter of Workplace MVP, the show which celebrates heroes in the workplace.
Intro: [00:00:00] Broadcasting from the Business RadioX Studios, here is your R3 Continuum Playbook. Brought to you by Workplace MVP sponsor, R3 Continuum, a global leader in workplace behavioral health, crisis, and security solutions.
Shane McNally: [00:00:14] Hi, there. My name is Shane McNally, marketing specialist for R3 Continuum. On this episode of the R3 Continuum Playbook, we are featuring a segment from a recent webinar that was done with R3 Continuum’s Associate Medical Director, Dr. Tyler Arvig.
Shane McNally: [00:00:28] The webinar was titled Reducing Stigma, Ways Leaders Can Support Employee Mental Health. And it looked into the current workplace climate, what and what employees are currently feeling, ways that leaders can start to notice if their employees may be struggling, what leaders can do to help reduce the stigma of mental health in their organization and resources available to them.
Shane McNally: [00:00:48] During the webinar, we asked our audience the question of what issues are you seeing in those around you right now. And the top three responses were anxiety, work-life imbalance, and changes in productivity. What we can gather from this is that many folks are noticing their employees or colleagues struggling, but may not know how to handle it. In this excerpt from the webinar, Dr. Tyler Arvid gives advice to leaders on what they can do to support their employees and what they should be doing to help their employees that are struggling.
Tyler Arvig: [00:01:17] So, here’s, again, these aren’t in any particular order. The first thing you can do in your organization is, make behavioral health a priority and employee health a priority not just at the H.R. level or at the wellness committee level, but at the very top, you know, your C-suite folks, your president. You know, them indicating, you know, we have a business to run and we have things to do but we care about you too. And, you know, checking me in and showing that it’s something that’s not just on paper. Like the previous slide, 96% of the companies [inaudible] H.R. policy. Most still don’t feel supported. And, we often look for H.R. to be that support and that they should be and that’s wonderful and we want them to do that. But we also want our leaders, people that hired us, that support us, that run our businesses to say, “Hey, this is a priority for us, too.”
Tyler Arvig: [00:02:23] The second point, engaging your employees, we already talked about. But, really, you know, how do you communicate with them? Don’t just do it in emails. You call them. You call them for no reason. You check in with them. Are you – are you keeping them in the fold, or are they just off on an island doing their own thing?
Tyler Arvig: [00:02:42] Modeling strength and vulnerability is a bit of what I talked about before, which is – there is no – saying the great thing about this is a bad choice of words. But, you know, with COVID-19 being what it is, there’s no us in them here. Right? We’re all experiencing these things, whether we’re at a management level or the entry-level or somewhere in the middle. We’re all experiencing those stressors and those challenges, and those things. So being able to be a little bit transparent with your folks not overly so and not over disclosing or, you know, laying out your every personal problem you ever had at their doorstep.
Tyler Arvig: [00:03:31] But, again, I’m struggling with my kid. Like, you know, last year when there was distance learning for a lot of us and a lot of our kids were struggling. Yeah. And you get parents that maybe they’re not as productive because they’re trying to help their kids in school, like, not fail. And it’s a problem, and chances are you felt that too. Share it. So, really, you know, kind of joining with your folks. And also, showing some strength in terms of, you know, effective ways to manage things. You know, they might be looking to you for some level of leadership and modeling in trying to do that.
Tyler Arvig: [00:04:11] The communication I think we’ve already addressed. But, really, it’s – the important part here is your communication is two-way. It’s not just I’m dictating to you what is. It should be a dialogue. “Hey, what do you guys think would be helpful for this problem?” And then, sharing back and forth, having an open conversation. Most really good ideas and organizations don’t come from someone at the very top that dictates something and then commands people to do it. It usually starts organically at the lower level and then gets adopted at the higher levels.
Tyler Arvig: [00:04:50] Same thing when it comes to employee health and organizational health. Make sure there’s an open dialogue there. Show some creativity when it comes to things you can alter. There are things that we can’t alter [inaudible] workday or work environment or work tasks. But there are things that we can. “I got to go pick my kid up for half an hour. You know, I can adjust my schedule or, you know, tweak.” Those kinds of things. Do it. Thinking through not, you know, did you serve your nine to five and punch in and punch out for your lunch break, but did you meet the needs of the organization?
Tyler Arvig: [00:04:50] You know, Jane mentioned earlier everyone is always fearful at the beginning that, well, what if we send everyone home, they work from home and no one is productive? And, really, that fear in our organization, at least in most organizations, didn’t come true. It turns out giving people flexibility and some creativity and changing some things actually made things more likely to get done more effectively.
Tyler Arvig: [00:05:53] You know, know your lane. And, by this, I mean, you know, we can all be better supporting our people. But you’re going to get to a point where you’re like, “This is above my pay grade. This is outside of my wheelhouse. I don’t know.” And, that’s when you want to consult with an expert. I mean, our company does this for a living. It’s what we do, right? It’s our thing. And, it’s because we realize that some of these challenges, there are a lot of them you can do on your own and you can manage on your own. But if it gets to be a bigger challenge, you’re better off trying to pull in an expert who can really give you the guidance of what you need and when you need it.
Tyler Arvig: [00:06:42] The last piece I’m going to mention here is it’s really more of a self-reflective piece. If I’m going to be a leader and I’m going to lead my folks, I need to have a good understanding of myself and what my own vulnerabilities are. Right? So, I think we’ve all found, over the course of the past couple of years and most of our lives if we’ve been leaders for long enough, there’s stuff we’re not very good at. And there are things we’re good at and there are things that we really struggle with. If I don’t have a good sense of this isn’t a strength of mine and I can’t adjust for that, I’m going to struggle to really effectively lead other people. If I don’t have a sense of, you know, what my own pain points are in my personal life, I’m not going to recognize it when I see it in my people.
Tyler Arvig: [00:07:33] So, part of, you know, being a coach or a mentor or a leader or a manager to other people is being able to look internally and go, “How am I doing? What are my strengths and weaknesses? What do I need to work on?” There’s a lot of rich material there that a lot of us haven’t had to sit and think about or deal with. But when do we do, when we try and figure some of that stuff out, we actually get much more effective in what we’re doing for our organization. So, yeah.
Shane McNally: [00:08:12] I loved your point about with be creative. You know, that’s one thing from working from home is. So, you know, for me, it’s like if I’m stumped on creating something, you know I’m having just a tough time, and I can just get up and go out to the living room and go play with my cat for like five minutes and all of a sudden I come back and it’s like, “Oh, I got up. I moved.” You know, it’s a little just different than having to take a walk down the hall or go grab a cup of coffee. It’s a little bit – you know, gives me a little bit more, I don’t know, I don’t know the word, happiness, I guess if that makes sense. So, I thought that was a good point there.
Tyler Arvig: [00:08:48] All right. So, if you have an employee who is struggling, again we’ve already talked about this, ask. You know, be inquisitive in an appropriate way. You know, if you have a good relationship, they’re going to be open. And if you have someone you consider [inaudible], try and connect them with some help. I would say start with your human resources department, know what resources your company has for folks. Maybe you have different programs, different opportunities, maybe even having an understanding of what the different benefits are that people might have, be [inaudible], be that health insurance or employee assistance or whatever it is.
Tyler Arvig: [00:09:35] One of the things people that often need help, often struggle with, is they don’t know where to go or what to do, and so they just don’t do it. So, it’s our responsibility but also kind of our honor to be able to say, “Hey, you’re struggling and here, here are some things I think can help.” And help them. Don’t just say, “Oh, go talk to H.R.” You know, maybe have a conversation and maybe, you know, facilitate it. Do something a little bit more active to get them help.
Tyler Arvig: [00:10:06] And then, you know, directing resources kind of falls within that as well. But, you know, there are a lot of resources out there right now, a lot of the resources, even in private mental health treatment. You know, now telemedicine is not only a thing. It’s been a thing for a long time. It’s becoming the norm. I can see a psychiatrist or a therapist or whoever without leaving my desk. It’s much easier to get access to some of those things than it used to be. So, you know, you have apps on your smartphone, that kind of thing.
Tyler Arvig: [00:10:43] So, there are lots of resources out there. It’s not your job to know what all those are, but do know what’s available to your people and be able to talk to those a little bit. Because, again, a lot of our people are struggling. And if we can do anything we can do to help get them the help they need at that moment, it’s going to help them.
Tyler Arvig: [00:11:07] And by the way, there’s a real business element to this that I think it’s missed, and that is all these things like asking how you’re doing and directing the resources and doing a warm handoff on some of these things. These are things that will ingratiate your employees to your organization in a way that other organizations that don’t do that kind of stuff. Don’t – you know, to them, you’re just – you know, those organizations might be just a paycheck if you can take those extra steps in these cases. You know, even if you don’t pay the highest or even if you make them work a few extra hours, they’re going to do that because you care about them as people. And one of the things with, you know, people talk about the great resignation, it’s not just about pay. I mean, you might leave for a bigger paycheck. You might leave for, you know, personal reasons. A lot of it is, my employer doesn’t care about me. My manager doesn’t care about me. I was struggling and they said they didn’t care. If I’m struggling, [inaudible], it doesn’t mean I won’t leave, but the odds of me leaving are much lower if I feel like I’m in a place where I should be and you value me as a person. So, just things to be aware of.
Shane McNally: [00:12:31] This information is extremely important for leaders, but it’s also good for people at any level in a company. While the best support for an organization starts at the top, it’s important to know how to assist someone that may be struggling.
Shane McNally: [00:12:43] Looking for more information on how you can begin implementing a more supportive behavioral health program for your employees? R3 Continuum can help. Learn more about R3 Continuum services and contact us at www.r3c.com or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
R3 Continuum (R3c) is a global leader in workplace behavioral health and security solutions. R3c helps ensure the psychological and physical safety of organizations and their people in today’s ever-changing and often unpredictable world. Through their continuum of tailored solutions, including evaluations, crisis response, executive optimization, protective services, and more, they help organizations maintain and cultivate a workplace of wellbeing so that their people can thrive. Learn more about R3c at www.r3c.com.
R3 Continuum is the underwriter of Workplace MVP, a show which celebrates the everyday heroes–Workplace Most Valuable Professionals–in human resources, risk management, security, business continuity, and the C-suite who resolutely labor for the well-being of employees in their care, readying the workplace for and planning responses to disruption.