We are still learning how the pandemic will affect the physical and mental well-being of American workers in the long term. While we are moving towards normalcy, many in the workforce continue to experience the negative impact that COVID-19 has had, and still has, on all of us. Perhaps most significant is how the pandemic has affected people psychologically.
As offices reopen, employers need to keep in mind employees’ mental health concerns. The question is: to what extent do employers need to accommodate team members?
Employers may find it tempting to overextend themselves in terms of offering perks to workers, especially in today’s incredibly competitive job market. Some businesses provide paid time off for mental health issues, while others offer daily cash prizes to get workers back in the office. Some of these incentives are more effective and less risky than others.
For instance, mental health days and support resources can be more meaningful ways to support the overall well-being of workers, considering how many Americans continue to experience stress, anxiety, and depression in the wake of the pandemic.
Reports show a sizable increase in workers who are still struggling with mental health disorders, burnout, and exhaustion. Acknowledging this fact by addressing the mental health concerns of workers in an open and fair manner, and supporting them, can be invaluable in the long term to companies and their workers. For employers, retaining top talent is a prime concern and goal of successful companies. Employers should use this historic opportunity, think long term, and provide genuine and meaningful support to their workers. This long term strategy will help a successful company stay successful. A company that simply institutes performative measures may make the company look good in the short term, but such measures are less likely to help the company achieve and maintain success in the long term.
Where is the Line?
It is important to note that California businesses are not required to offer extra mental health services, cash bonuses, or other incentives to workers. However, depending on the size and type of business, businesses still need to comply with state and federal regulations regarding:
- Family and medical leave;
- Sick time;
- Meal and rest breaks;
- Health insurance;
These laws remain the same as they were before the pandemic. If you do choose to offer expanded mental health services and other motivational perks to employees returning to work, be sure you administer them fairly across your workforce. Should you have questions about how to do this, you can seek legal guidance to avoid potential violations and and costly lawsuits.
Understanding your rights and obligations as a California employer can be difficult, particularly during this tumultuous transition back to a communal working environment. By ensuring you are compliant, you can continue to protect your workforce, your reputation, and your bottom line.