Mental health is not just a large company concern. Every employer, regardless of size—from two employees to 2,000—should have a plan in place to address the well-being of employees and their families.
Often, however, micro businesses—businesses with less than 10 employees—have fewer resources and may face larger consequences. The Affordable Care Act requires that employers who have 50 or more full-time or full-time equivalent employees offer health insurance. But when your company only employs, for example, two part-time employees, and one is dealing with personal or familial mental health crises, what can you do? How can you accommodate their unique needs and how can you assist? Here are some suggestions:
Listen with empathy. One of the benefits of a small company is the close-knit atmosphere it can facilitate. Owners and managers can help by encouraging healthy communication and collaboration among its team members.
Be flexible. Very small, mom-and-pop-type businesses may not offer traditional benefits for its part-time employees—nor are they required to. But they can commit to being flexible to accommodate time-off for therapist or doctor appointments for employees or their family members.
Have a contingency plan. Should one of your employees need to take extended time off for themselves or to care for a family member dealing with mental health issues, have a plan in place. While absences can affect all companies negatively, the affects for micro businesses can be devastating because the resulting workload cannot be shared across a larger team. Have a plan in place for extended absences. Make sure you don’t overextend yourself or your other employees because that will only add to your or their stress and anxiety. Can you use contract workers? Adjust your work hours accordingly for a limited time period?
Set expectations. Be respectful of your employees’ time. Do not expect them to respond to emails, phone calls or texts outside of work hours and make sure that they are paid for all of the time they are spent working—even if it is just dropping off a package at the post office or picking up supplies at a store.
Don’t forget to say thanks. Whether it’s an annual raise, a bonus, or a paid day off—be sure to thank your employees and let them know how much you appreciate their work.