This article was originally run in the Union Leader on October 23, 2023.
Written by: Kathryn Skouteris: Vice President, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care – New Hampshire Market
In a recent study from tech industry leader Hostinger, New Hampshire was named the number one state in the country for work-life balance. Granite State employers received high marks in several areas, such as average hours worked per week and overall affordability, and occupational stress.
How are New Hampshire organizations proactively working to support their employee’s health and wellbeing? As a partner to many New Hampshire businesses, here’s a few places where we’re seeing them focus their efforts:
- Prioritize supportive workplace culture
Building trust between managers and employees enables people at all levels to be transparent about what’s happening at work or home and bring their whole selves to the workplace. This, in turn, can help managers better understand and support employees. Managers can build trust by asking how their employees are doing, listening to them as people and helping them determine which tasks to prioritize and which can be pushed back when bandwidth is low. They may also model professional vulnerability by being open about some of their own feelings and challenges.
- 2. Include mental health benefits as part of your benefits package
Offering a variety of mental health care options-in terms of format and providers—can increase your benefit package’s impact. Some individuals prefer in-person therapy, while others find teletherapy and digital mental health tools a better fit for their schedules and needs. Point32Health, the parent company of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, has partnered with Included Health, a health care company that provides quick access to health advice, top medical and behavioral health professionals, insurance experts and care coordinators to help users find the best in-network options for their needs.
- Create an inclusive environment for all employees
In the U.S., one in four adults have some type of disability, with mobility and cognition being the most common. While stigma can keep those who live with an unnoticeable disability from sharing it openly, fostering a welcoming workplace for all has several benefits for both employers and employees. First, people with disabilities bring unique perspectives that lead to better products, solutions and outcomes, making them an asset to the teams and organizations they’re a part of. Secondly, prioritizing an inclusive work environment creates a more well-rounded workplace and demonstrates a commitment to promoting the well-being of all employees.
- Reimagine what employee well-being can look like
The U.S. Surgeon General recently put forward a framework for workplace mental health and well-being, which proposes that employers should first prioritize physical and psychological safety. This can include enabling adequate rest – think mandated PTO, no-meeting Fridays, allotted wellness time and manager goals for team PTO – and normalizing communication about mental health.
Fostering connection and community, ensuring employees feel valued and offering opportunities for personal and professional growth are other vital factors in employee mental health, according to the framework.
Work is a significant part our lives. Modern technology and remote work have blurred the line between work and home, and many employees consider their jobs to be not just a source of income but a source of purpose. It makes sense that employers and managers committed to supporting mental health can improve not only their colleagues’ workplace satisfaction but their overall well-being.
When it comes to choosing a health plan that helps you support the mental well-being of your employees and their families, turn to a trusted local partner. Because at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, we believe whole health care – physical and mental — is important for us all.
Kathryn Skouteris: Vice President, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care – New Hampshire Market