Integrating mental health tools into performance management systems

Comprehensive tools in PMS can make it easier for employees to face challenges like anxiety and depression


According to the World Health Organization (WHO) about $1 trillion is lost every year across the global economy due to anxiety and depression at the workplace. In spite of this, the social stigma associated with acknowledging mental stress is holding many employees from coming forward and addressing the issue. Here a concept is presented which integrates the recent psychological research findings with Performance Management Systems (PMS) to develop a comprehensive employee support tool.

A typical PMS addresses issues like planning and monitoring performance and development of employees. It is a well-known fact among managers that mental health plays a very decisive role in an employee's performance, yet a solid effort in the form of a one-platform solution is still wanting. Modern PMS like Microsoft Sharepoint and similar software can easily integrate it to create a portal for employee's mental health care.

Prerequisites for such a tool:

An online performance management system

It goes without saying that for an integrated web tool, a comprehensive outlook on the performance of the employees is a must. Hence, online performance management software with its ability to analyze real-time data and feedback with transparency is a necessity.

The organization should have a full-time psychologist or a psychotherapist

A professional mental health expert is essential in defining and framing the mental health policy of the company and to direct the employees in the process of recovery. The tool needs to integrate many of the fundamentals and proven techniques of psychotherapy, for which a professional is indispensable.

Adopt a short periodic performance review system

Annual performance reviews are more harmful to employee's mental health as they become too lengthy and there is little scope for any corrective actions or therapies. It is because annual performance review fails to absorb the small but pertinent events. A short-term performance review system will aid the management in dealing with mental health issues efficiently because early the mental health issue is identified more comfortable it is to cure.

Group sessions on mental health

These sessions should include the manager and employees. The meetings should be conducted by the lead psychologist of the organization to motivate and encourage employees to discuss their past and present experiences with mental health. The tool with the features as will be discussed below should be available and applicable to all the levels of administration. The involvement of all the levels of administrations will help in boosting the morale of the employees in the lower rung. It will convince them of the organization’s commitment to their wellbeing and hence come out of the stigma associated with seeking relief to mental health problems.

Such a system needs to have the following essential features:

A tool that alerts user towards falling performance

While designing and using such a system, the employees and the management should have the relevant training to understand some psychological fundamentals such as understanding that a fall in performance is not necessarily indicating poor mental health, but that it should be on the list of causes.

If the employee feels or doubts that mental stress could be the factor, then a questionnaire prepared by the organization's lead psychologist should be provided.

The tool should contain an array of tests and techniques to relieve anxiety and stress

It has been found that even a single mindful meditation can reduce anxiety levels drastically. This finding can help us design instant mindfulness meditation tools. Mindfulness meditation is a technique in which individuals are encouraged to be completely aware of the present moment in whatever activity one is engaging. Employing this technique an exercise could be inserted in the tool to facilitate a mindfulness meditation for the employee.

For example, a clock observing activity, where the participant will have to be aware of the second's hand of a clock tool, and say in mind "I am right here, I am right here" – this is an example of a simple meditative tool.

With the help of a professional psychologist, the organization can design plenty of such activities. The playfulness and the game like activities will also encourage employees to participate without stigmatization.

The tool should have a facility for the employee to openly express his/her frustration

One of the primary causes of anxiety among employees is the strained line of communication with the managers. These unexpressed views and words often rot inside the mind of employee and lead to later breakdowns. So, this tool should provide for open expressions and that too without any snooping from the management side.

The web tool should provide for a "Talk to my therapist" facility which allows the employee to chat online with the organization’s psychotherapist, always with the assurance of professional privacy between the therapist and employee. It is worth knowing that it has been found that it is easy to write about your feelings than talk about it.

A simple tool like this can go much deeper in bringing out the best in individual employees. Remember that the individuals are the building blocks of an organization so shining employees mean the entire organization shines brighter.

Help us shape the future of employee experience by participating in our Future Work Festival Survey.

Future Work Festival, a new high-level summit for senior HR, people and culture executives, will feature workshops, training masterclasses and fireside chats on areas including well-being, people analytics and CSR, as well as the all-important role of AI and technology in shaping the future of organizations.

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