Employers are in a unique position to drive change by promoting and supporting the mental health of employees, and corporate policies are a key component in accomplishing this. Corporate policies can reduce absenteeism (employee absence) and presenteeism (employee shows up, but is unproductive), prevent violence in the workplace, and reduce risk of mental health problems as well as improve wellness, resiliency, respect, performance, and corporate morale.
Let’s go over a few basic characteristics that make for impactful policy.
Before a new policy is drafted and enforced, leadership buy-in and support of the policy is imperative to its success. For example, we know that preventing employee burnout is supportive of employee mental health. However, if management exudes a workaholic lifestyle and imposes that expectation onto their employees, policies to prevent burnout will not matter. This is where the phrase “lead by example” counts.
An employee handbook outlining company objectives, goals, values, and rules is the first document a new employee should receive. Policies guide employee behavior and spell out what will happen if infractions occur. Employees should have access to this document at all times, and changes of or implementation of new policy should be communicated to all employees in a timely manner.
Training to company policies should be the province of Human Resources or similar department. For smaller entities, an Office Manager or CEO can effectively run policy training. It may also be of great value in the development of policy trainings to involve both subject matter experts and other relevant stakeholders.
Procedures to enforce policy are essential in demonstrating fairness and consistency to employees. Employees who feel they work in a fair work environment are more likely to be productive and loyal to the company.
Policies should always be dated upon approval and adoption, and revised with reasonable regularity.