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HR guide: How to measure mental health

HR guide: How to measure mental health



The most frequently-used way to monitor employee health is to establish regular one-to-one check-ins with either line managers or HR teams. 

It's no secret mental health of employees and managers alike has suffered as a result of the pandemic and its effects, such as home isolation and news fatigue. So much so, that the topic is finally out of the shadows and becoming a conscious point of discussion in leadership meetings. 

As such, it's a good time to take stock of how HR managers can measure mental health, be it to identify employees potentially suffering or to ascertain if the programmes initiated have made a difference. 

Social listening research by Koa Health, supplementary to its report commissioned to Censuswide, has interviewed 1,004 HR managers in the UK and US from companies of 250+ employees, to understand the tactics deployed by HR to measure employee mental health. The HR managers interviewed spanned 17 sectors, including retail, technology, law, finance and insurance. 

The following are the eight most popular ways for HR and line managers to measure employee health:

1. Regular one-to-one check-ins with line managers 

A recent survey by Joblist found that the average time employees went without speaking to their managers (6.1 days) and fellow co-workers (5.4 days) were quite lengthy. This can be detrimental to both the employee and their work. The survey pointed out remote employees who felt unseen were more likely to experience feelings of burnout, imposter syndrome — which translates to feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt — and loneliness.

2. Regular one-to-one check-ins with HR teams

The way to overcoming the stigma associated with mental illness is stop treating it as a taboo. Speak about it candidly and help those who are struggling realise they are not alone. Read 9 more tips to improve mental health

3. Uptake of therapy, resources or mental health subscription apps 

Did you know? Parents working at Hibob get access to a unique platform where they can hear lectures on relevant parental challenges and how to address them, set time with specialists for advice on managing parenting right now, and connect with other parents to discuss best practices. Employees also benefit from access to the app Headspace to help them recharge their energy and maintain positive mental health. Every little bit helps.

4. Uptake of employee assistance programmes (EAPs)

Read about how Verizon safeguards employees’ physical and mental wellbeing through access to 24-hour counselling service, daily webinars from the CEO, an employee assistance programme, a Covid support team set up by HR, meditation and mindfulness sessions and mental health webinars. 

5. Anonymised data from mental health apps

Being in quarantine can bring up a range of emotions and it can be a stressful time. Ensure that your employees are aware of the support resources available, be it through mental health app subscriptions, in-house counsellor support and links to resources. Here is some advice on managing employee health during times of quarantine.

6. Regular staff-wide anonymous surveys

At Hewlett Packard Enterprise, in last year’s internal company survey, 91% of HPE employees globally reported that they agree that their health and wellbeing has been the company’s top priority. This is how surveys can help gauge the employee pulse. Find out more here. 

7. Ad hoc surveys or ad hoc pulse checks through managers or HR

When asked what makes a manager special, aka the top traits of a good manager, employees said they are looking for someone who genuinely cares about their subordinates’ work-life balance; has a positive attitude and a good sense of humour; and supports the team members and has their back. 

8. Participation in team socials

Always remember that frequently saying “thank you” can go a long way. Appreciation can be as simple as a mention at a staff meeting or as involved as a nomination of your team for internal and external awards. If they do something well, take notice. If you implement ideas submitted by your team, give them credit.

For the Koa Health survey, the following are some key highlights across HR managers in the UK and US:

  1.  31% of HR managers surveyed said that they used the uptake of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to measure mental health, while 31% measured the uptake of therapy, resources or mental health app subscriptions on offer.
  2. 30% of HR managers used anonymised data from mental wellbeing subscription apps to measure employee mental health. This was seen most in the pharmaceutical, education and online retail sectors, where 40% or more of HR managers said that they were using the uptake of therapy, resource or mental health subscription apps to measure mental wellbeing.
  3. It’s possible that a potential driver for deploying app-based services is the recognition amongst HR managers that most staff do not want to talk about their mental health at work; for instance, 60% of HR managers in insurance agreed that employees would not feel comfortable sharing their mental health concerns at work. Discrete, private services, such as app subscriptions, were seen to solve this issue.
  4. Nevertheless, HR managers continued to conduct regular 1:1s with line managers, with 34% of HR managers saying that these meetings were the most frequent approach to assess mental health. Companies with a smaller turnover ($1.4m- $14m) were more likely to have regular 1:1 check-ins with line managers to assess employee mental health in this way (42%), than those with turnovers ranging between $14m - $70m (31%).

Dr. Oliver Harrison, CEO, Koa Health, shared: “Industries such as financial services and insurance have previously been seen by some as laggards when it comes to mental wellbeing. From the outside in, people are quick to associate the sectors with intensely high pressure, long working weeks and ever-present stress.

"While I’m not going to say that either industry has solved these problems, our report highlights some of the promising steps HR managers have taken within these industries to address these issues and start to tailor mental health support to individuals."

Image / Koa Health report

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