If 2020 taught businesses anything about employee wellbeing, it was that mental health issues are real for employees. It wasn’t just the pandemic that had people worried in 2020, but it was civil, social, and political unrest. Employees were expecting their workplaces to navigate them through the uncertainty of a global pandemic, while also providing support as civil unrest was building across the country. Data has suggested that “younger and historically underrepresented workers still struggle the most”, leading to the integration of mental health issues and DEI as an emerging concept. Even in 2023, the stakes for mental health support continue to rise, and yet “only 30% of employees have access to mental health benefits.”
Employers will need to continue supporting mental health throughout the overall employee experience to retain an engaged and productive workforce. A rising number of employees are choosing to leave jobs for mental health reasons, many of which are related to the workforce itself. “Sixty-eight percent of Millennials (50% in 2019) and 81% of Gen Zers (75% in 2019) have left roles for mental health reasons, both voluntarily and involuntarily, compared with 50% of respondents overall (34% in 2019). Ninety-one percent of respondents believed that a company’s culture should support mental health, up from 86% in 2019” (HBR).
Make Mental Health a Priority
Making mental health a priority goes far beyond ensuring mental health coverage is offered as part of an employer’s benefits package. It starts with identifying stressors to mental health in the workplace and finding ways to address them. A Momentive study found that “46% of people who are planning to quit their job are doing so because of stress.” Oftentimes, we don’t find out that an employee is even struggling with workplace stress before it’s too late.
Organizations can actively work to reduce the stigma of discussing mental health at work by leading by example. Create space for discussions about mental health in the workplace. As Momentive suggests: “Encourage leadership to be open about mental health and create a culture that goes against the stigma.” This may not only increase an employee’s willingness to raise mental health concerns with their employer but help the eight in ten employees who feel that the stigma surrounding mental health is a barrier to getting treatment at all.
How Managers Can Support Employees
There are a variety of ways Managers can address mental health and provide much-needed support to their teams:
- Consider conducting regular “stay” interviews. Find out what’s working and what’s not and ensure a mental health-related focus. This will provide meaningful data on where people are struggling, and how the business can help. It will also help employees feel heard.
- Regularly review time reports, along with time off reports. Are certain areas of your business regularly logging 50+ hour work weeks? Dig into that and try to understand the root cause. Are there staffing issues, or is there an inexperienced manager leading the team? Similarly, understand whether time off is being utilized. Celebrate people TAKING time off, instead of consistently working.
- In addition to encouraging leaders to lead by example, turn them into allies. Create an “open door” policy as a manager, actively start conversations around mental health, and demonstrate that you care about employees who are suffering at all levels.
- Treat mental and physical health the same. You’d support an employee who was physically struggling and find ways to accommodate their needs. Find ways to provide similar support for those struggling with “invisible” issues.
A resilient workforce starts with understanding, supporting, and actively discussing mental health. Teamraderie’s Change & Resilience Journey helps build your team’s understanding of the mindset that accomplishes different types of change while becoming more resilient.
Build these practices into your employee experience journey, and you’ll undoubtedly notice a difference!