Singapore companies opening up to giving staff more mental well-being support

SINGAPORE – Singapore employers appear to be changing their attitude towards supporting initiatives that deal with mental well-being issues in the workplace.

A recent local study by Oracle showed that 77 per cent of respondents felt their companies were more concerned about their mental well-being now compared to before the pandemic, said Senior Minister of State Zaqy Mohamad on Tuesday (Dec 9).

“We should capitalise on this momentum and awareness, to normalise support for employees’ mental well-being across all companies,” he said at the virtual launch of the inaugural Workplace Mental Well-being Campaign.

The campaign is part of ongoing efforts by the Tripartite Oversight Committee on Workplace Safety and Health to foster a supportive working environment.

Mr Zaqy said he hopes the campaign will result in more employers and employees coming together to realise their shared responsibility in dealing with mental well-being at the workplace.

“Employees should surface issues to their employers, and employers should support their employees, because work can be good for mental well-being, and mental well-being is good for work,” he said.

Citing a 2018 survey done by Deloitte in Canada, which found that for every $1 invested in mental well-being initiatives – like in leadership training and giving staff access to counselling programmes – yielded a return on investment of more than $2 from reduced medical leave and compensation costs.

Among the new initiatives launched at the event was a human resource playbook containing proven initiatives that HR professionals and employers in Singapore have successfully implemented to support their employees’ mental well-being.

Co-created by the Ministry of Manpower, the Institute for Human Resource Professionals and the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council, the playbook complements the resources on national mental health portal MindSG.

Also speaking at Thursday’s virtual event, Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary noted that the Health Promotion Board (HPB) has seen more demand for training programmes that equip supervisors, human resource managers and employees with supporting skills and knowledge.

“This is a positive sign that employers are increasingly recognising the value of helping their employees to keep healthy, not just physically but also mentally.”

Dr Janil added: “Through these programmes, participants learn to identify signs and symptoms of common mental health conditions, and acquire knowledge on how they can reach out to and support colleagues with mental health challenges, and encourage them to seek help early if required.”

He urged companies to work towards creating an environment that was conducive for workers to come forward and share when they felt they were overwhelmed.

“This may include establishing dedicated platforms or HR systems that allow employees to share their problems and challenges without feeling judged or penalised,” he said.

Mr Zaqy also announced a new award that will recognise companies that have made progress in their mental well-being journey, and highlight them as employers of choice.

The CARE Award – signifying a culture of acceptance, respect and empathy – will join the WSH Council’s slate of annual WSH Awards. Applications open in January next year, and the winners will be announced in July.

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