How to survive in the dark - support the mental well-being of your employees

Winter is a challenging time for many in the Nordic countries, when the days get shorter and the temperature ­drops. Many people suffer from depression, which appears e.g. as fatigue, nausea and irritability. Depression can weaken employees' work ability and motivation, which also affects the organization's results. That is why it is important that the employer takes care of the mental well-being of his employees, especially during the dark season.

Helén Hägglund
Helén Hägglund 
Senior Advisor, HR & Employee Benefits

What is it really about?

Mental health is an increasingly important factor in employees' ability to work, especially as working life becomes increasingly demanding and uncertain. Mental health problems are the most common cause of sick leave and disability pensions in Finland, and their costs are up to 2.5 billion euros annually. That's why taking care of employees' mental well-being is not only humane, but also economically reasonable from the point of view of the organization.

But what does mental well-being mean and how can it be promoted? Good mental health is the ability to cope with everyday challenges, experience joy and meaning, and create and maintain social relationships. Mental health can be supported in many ways, such as taking care of adequate rest, exercise, nutrition, hobbies and relationships. The work environment and work culture also have a great influence on the well-being of the mind.

Occupational health care in a key position

High-quality occupational health care is a common partner of the employer and employees, which offers help not only in promoting other health, but also in mental health and problems.

Occupational health care services should include mental well-being sparring both remotely and at receptions. The occupational health care provider can also develop an operating model together with the employer, which identifies mental challenges and intervenes in time when mental well-being deteriorates. With this, it is possible to better support employees' recovery and coping at work.

If the employer does not have the opportunity to offer, for example, extended occupational health care, it is worth using e.g. services provided by the pension insurer that help prevent incapacity for work and promote well-being at work .

The employer should make sure that it is clear to the staff what all services are available in their occupational health and encourage them to use early support services. In this way, the best benefits can be obtained from the occupational health services and, in the best case, the deepening and prolongation of mental illnesses is avoided.

Tips for supporting mental well-being

The darkness and cold of winter can be harsh. You can cope with them better if you take care of yourself and each other. Here are some tips to support your employees' mental well-being in winter:

  • Encourage your employees to take regular breaks and enjoy the daylight when it is available. Daylight helps adjust the internal clock and improves mood.
  • Organize opportunities for your employees to exercise and exercise together, for example through personnel benefits . Exercise increases feel-good hormones and reduces stress. Shared hobbies increase the spirit of togetherness and social support.
  • Consider the individual needs and wishes of your employees. Some may need more flexibility in working hours or telecommuting, while others may need more guidance and feedback. Ask your employees what they need and how you can help them.
  • Be open and encouraging in matters of mental health. Encourage your employees to speak up if they experience challenges or concerns with their mental well-being. Provide them with information and support for using occupational health care and other services.

Taking care of mental health is not only genuine concern for employees, but also financial risk management to ensure the continuity of operations. When you invest in the well-being of your employees, you get better work efficiency, motivation and commitment in return.

We offer advice and management assistance for insuring employees, tendering for occupational health care, planning and tendering for personnel benefits, and numerous other HR matters and pensions. We also carry out organization-specific personal risk assessments.

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