Buffalo mental health experts offer advice to employers – Buffalo Business First – The Business Journals

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These are the days of the Great Resignation and quiet quitting.
While a mass exodus of workers leave their jobs and some existing staff mentally check out from their roles, many businesses struggle to attract, retain and engage employees.
For those holding out hope for a return to normalcy, don’t hold your breath. The trauma that some experienced during the pandemic might play out for years to come, according to Jessica Pirro, CEO of Crisis Services.
“It’s not like it’s over because we’re getting back to kind of normal,” she said.
Business First spoke with local mental health experts on how employers can keep workers comfortable and healthy in this new era of work.
Employers should evaluate their employee assistance programs and make sure supervisors and managers are trained in the offerings and how to use the services, Pirro said.
“(The programs) can be a conduit to help connect people to services, provide some coaching or support through a situation or a challenging space for an employee,” she added. “But also just to kind of really be a neutral party to our employees as well.”
In addition, resources should include peer-to-peer support by utilizing people in the organization, such as a wellness committee.
Companies can share information about local resources such as Crisis Services and Endeavor Health Service.
“You could put together a resources list of some recommended apps for self-care or meditation,” she said.
With a lot of information comes responsibility. Employers are tasked with the challenge of fostering workplace wellness without overwhelming staff.
Quick sound bites that are clear and transparent are key, said Elizabeth Mauro, CEO of Endeavor Health. That tactic was especially crucial during the height of the pandemic with ever-changing regulations and best practices.
There are human resources platforms that allow employers to streamline information rather than having employees search for past communications and emails, Pirro said.
The biggest misconception about solving employee wellbeing is that simply taking time off will fix a problem, Mauro added.
“Have that ongoing conversation of asking people,” she said. “Ask what’s most supportive and what do they need for work-life balance and emotional health. I’ve found a variety works best because it’s not one-size-fits all.”
Normalize and create a safe space for employees to talk about mental health in the workplace. Leaders can take time at the start of meetings for a team check-in, Pirro said. For example, if someone is going through a tough time, that person could ask for patience from co-workers that week. That could prompt other workers to offer to help.
“It just kind of sets that place of safety that that’s okay to talk about,” she said.
Along with good, consistent communication, employers can take steps to show they practice what they preach.
That can include workplace culture. Does the supervisor expect employees to answer emails after business hours? Is staff encouraged to take vacation days and disconnect from work?
Actions can carry over into physical spaces. Is there a private space for workers to make phone calls, meditate, pray or use a breast pump?
“If you say your personal, self-care is important to me, but you don’t give them space to do that,” Mauro said, “behaviorally you’re not matching that up.”
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