Employees expect more support for their mental health. Employers need to be more responsive to promoting mental well-being in their workplace culture if they want to retain top talent.
Since the global pandemic, the mental health of American workers has been on a downward spiral. Conference Board research shows that nearly 80% are concerned about their mental condition. With this, more than three-quarters cite stress and burnout as the biggest challenge.
Organizations need to rethink their role in helping to protect the mental health of their employees, that much is clear. According to McKinsey & Company, the required shift in understanding that is needed is nothing short of a “revolution“. Employee expectations about how their company supports their mental well-being are increasing. In doing so, employers must respond to this demand if they are to retain talent.
Julie Lee, psychologist and coach, has identified the “4 Cs.” These help organizations better meet the mental health needs of their employees: commitment, culture, care, and community.
Employers must understand why the health of their employees is important. Only then can the commitment of the leadership team be guaranteed. At first glance, this may seem “touchy-feely” to some managers. Yet the fact is that not adequately addressing employee concerns about mental health issues can have an impact. On the one hand, on the development and, on the other, the long-term retention of talent within an organization.
Current employees consider mental state and wellness benefits very important when looking at a potential job, according to research from the mental health platform, Ginger, 2021. This consideration may be especially critical for organizations with millennials or Gen Z employees, as these cohorts say their mental health is their top priority, according to a report from PwC.
Business losses due to employee mental health concerns are significant. These cannot compete with the mental wellness benefits. Consider that if your organization has a financial need. Sapien Labs reports that in the United States:
- Depressive disorders cost organizations between $31 billion and $51 billion per year in lost productivity.
- An employee with depression costs an organization $10,000 annually in health insurance, compared to an average of $4,584.
- An employee with major depression is absent an average of 27 days per year.
- For every $1 invested annually in prevention and intervention programs to support mental health, employers can save $2 to $4 in other expenses
- Recruitment and redeployment costs average $4,000 per employee.
How much capital is your organization willing to invest to improve employee mental health support? Then consider that implementing mental health strategies and offering wellness-related supports and services require financial resources. They also require organizational changes or staff allocation and training.
Employers must create an organizational culture that destigmatizes mental health problems while normalizing and encouraging help-seeking. Changing an organization’s culture requires dedication, strategy and consistent efforts over an extended period of time. To understand how to effectively address culture change, begin by assessing the current culture by asking the following questions:
- What are the most pressing employee mental condition concerns?
- How readily do employees express mental health concerns to their colleagues and managers?
- How much do employees know about the company’s mental health benefits and services?
- Do employees feel that their managers can understand and support their mental health concerns within the work team?
- What mental health resources do employees use the most? What services and benefits do they find most useful?
The assessment should create a basis for understanding from management about the mental well-being concerns of their employees. Then use the findings to make decisions about changes or additions to employee mental health offerings and benefits. Keep in mind that mental health support is not the same for everyone and that seeking help depends on gender, age, and industry.
Next, an organization must consider which forms of support are most effective when it comes to prevention and intervention.
Preventive care measures should include talent management, these require an understanding of job design, the team experience, the work climate, and the way employees are managed. As Jen Fisher points out in Harvard Business Review, managers can have a positive impact on employee mental health if they establish work expectations and supervisory styles that can prevent burnout.
Evaluate current offerings and their effectiveness or use before adding new services. For example, a company may appoint facilities or employees to provide mental well-being services for employees. But it is important to understand the feasibility, cost, and estimated use of these services. An assessment of the organizational culture will allow these decisions to be made on a data basis.
Be sure to evaluate mental health benefits and management support. What does the company’s support look like for employees who have taken a leave of absence due to mental health issues and are now returning to work? Most organizations already offer many benefits, but employees may not be well aware of them. Often, these benefits are effective but their use is very low. Organizations should regularly evaluate their care tools and continue to optimize their financial investment in their mental health offerings.
One of the key factors in reducing stress for employees is to ensure that they have a sense of work community and belonging. So how can an organization best strengthen its sense of community and become a place where people throughout the organization experience compassion, care and concern? It starts with leadership.
Gallup research shows that managers have a direct, daily impact on creating a sense of community for their team. Leaders have a responsibility to demonstrate authentic caring. It is also up to them to provide a psychologically safe space for team members to share professional or personal concerns. A recent example that made the news was when LinkedIn gave all of its employees a week off so they could recover from pandemic-induced burnout.
Is it worth standing up for the mental well-being of your employees? If your vision for the future includes employee retention, then the answer is clearly yes. While the pandemic is not over, employees continue to struggle with their commitment to work, their relationship with their organization, and what it takes to maintain their professional and personal balance. At this tipping point, employers who embrace and support their employees’ mental health will attract more talent.
Source: Fast Company
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