The future of work is here, and it’s bringing a new set of demands on mental health. With increasing workloads, remote working, and uncertain economic climates, the modern workforce is becoming more stressed out than ever.
At the same time, employees have more flexibility in moving jobs thanks to low unemployment. And societal shifts in attitudes about mental wellness that had already been happening before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated with increasing awareness and acceptance.
For employers, all of this has important ramifications. Stressed-out employees are less productive, take more time off, and are more likely to leave. Even more importantly, employees today increasingly expect their employers to value and promote mental well-being in a real and authentic way.
"Mental health is becoming the next frontier of diversity and inclusion, and employees want their companies to address it. Eighty-six percent of our respondents thought that a company's culture should support mental health"- Greenwood, Bapat, and Maughan- Harvard Business Review
Mental Health - An Important Component of Your Employee Benefits
Today, people are looking for organizations that prioritize mental health and well-being. Not only can that commitment have a major impact on their satisfaction with their current job, but it can even affect their interest in joining an organization in the first place.
In fact, in a 2022 study, the American Psychological Association found that: “A majority (81%) of survey respondents said that employers’ support for mental health will be an important consideration when they look for work in the future—including 30% of workers who strongly agreed that employer support for mental health will factor into their future job decisions.”
Organizations that demonstrate a commitment to mental health can create a more supportive environment for their employees and help them remain agile when facing difficult challenges. They can also make themselves more attractive to prospective employees.
More Than the Bare Minimum
Recognizing the shifts in employee expectations, some employers have begun to attend to mental health issues more than in the past. However, those efforts can fall short if they are not comprehensive or if they feel inauthentic to employees. Companies today need to do more than the bare minimum; they need a holistic approach to mental health wellness.
Here are a few of the issues that even the most well-intentioned employee mental health programs face:
- Mental health in the workplace is often viewed as binary - employees are either "well" or "unwell." This leads to treatment-based approaches that do not take into account that mental health is a spectrum that varies over time.
- Employees can be reluctant to seek mental health assistance from their employer. This can be due to a fear of stigma, or even the perception that they need to "tough it out." It is also often due to a lack of trust that they will not be penalized by their employer.
- Employee mental health programs are often viewed as an added cost and not as a necessary investment. As a result, they are sometimes not as efficient as they might be.
What is a "Holistic" Approach to Employee Mental Well-being?
In the modern workplace, a “holistic” approach to employee mental well-being is becoming increasingly important. This type of approach looks at the entire person when helping them with their mental health needs, not just one specific issue. A holistic approach focuses on creating an environment that fosters healthy communication and relationships between employees, as well as advocating for resources and policies that support mental health initiatives.
Some companies are even taking this concept further by developing comprehensive programs that incorporate physical activity, nutrition, stress relief techniques, and mental health services. By providing these types of resources to employees, companies can give their workforce the tools they need to maintain their overall wellness. Additionally, offering these types of benefits can help attract potential employees who may have been previously reluctant to enter certain fields due to mental health concerns.
Many organizations are also taking advantage of technology to create easier access to mental health services for their employees. For example, some companies are using digital apps or websites that provide employees with quick access to information about available services or resources in their area. With this type of system in place, employees can find support more quickly and easily when they need it most.
Ultimately, a “holistic” approach to employee mental well-being is essential for creating an environment where everyone feels supported and respected regardless of any challenges they may face. Companies that prioritize this type of initiative can not only benefit their own workforce but also set an example for other organizations looking for ways to make a positive difference in the lives of their staff members.
Developing a Holistic Mental Wellness Culture in the Workplace
Given the many benefits, some organizations have begun to put additional resources behind employee mental well-being. However, to be successful, those efforts need to be developed and executed with great care.
Every organization is unique, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to employee mental well-being.
9 tips that most companies find useful:
establish a clear strategy that outlines the company's goals and objectives for employee well-being. This should include an understanding of the company culture, values, and expectations for employees. To ensure success, organizations need to set specific targets for their mental health initiatives. This could be measured through surveys or other monitoring tools, with feedback from both management and employees used to inform changes in policy or structure.
foster a culture of mental well-being by providing resources such as access to mental health services, wellness programs and stress management tools. These could include a robust employee assistance program, customized counseling sessions for employees dealing with personal issues, or more general sessions on healthy lifestyles or stress reduction techniques. Additionally, companies may consider offering workplace perks such as yoga classes or gym memberships to help promote physical activity amongst their staff members.
recognize and support mental health issues through initiatives such as flexible working hours, regular check-ins with employees, and open communication channels. Acknowledging mental health issues is important when creating an effective environment. Providing resources such as flexible work schedules or private spaces for employees to take time out if needed can go a long way toward making people feel supported. Additionally, it’s important that management is willing to have honest conversations with employees regularly so they can identify any potential issues before they escalate into serious problems.
reorganize buildings or workspaces to foster frequent movement and allow recovery breaks throughout the day. By creating more inviting workspaces that encourage movement throughout the day - such as adjustable standing desks or outdoor break areas - companies can encourage their staff to remain active even during busy periods of work. This type of approach also allows people to take regular breaks which will help reduce feelings of fatigue over time.
help people talk openly about mental health by creating safe spaces for dialogue and offering support when needed. Having an open-talk policy within each team is key when it comes to making sure everyone feels heard. Managers can foster this kind of culture by allowing everyone an equal opportunity to speak up during meetings and proactively checking in with individuals who appear quieter than usual during larger group discussions.
offer incentives for a healthy lifestyle such as gym memberships or discounts on fitness classes. It is beneficial for companies to investigate what types of rewards would appeal most to their workforce. This could include anything from discounted memberships at local gyms/fitness centers to complimentary tickets for sporting events outside of work hours.
eliminate or minimize overtime where possible to reduce stress levels among employees. Limiting overtime whenever possible is essential in helping maintain a healthy balance between workloads and leisure times. Setting clear expectations regarding expected project completion dates will ensure deadlines are met without extra pressure from longer shifts outside normal working hours.
personal finances are often a source of stress for employees. Provide access to financial education resources so that employees can better manage their finances. Giving them access to financial advice not only helps them budget effectively but also eases worries about money matters. Platforms like online seminars, virtual workshops, or guidance documents provided by expert third parties could be considered.
encourage team-activities. Taking part in collaborative activities outside of conventional business operations encourages individuals to build relationships while honing problem-solving skills. Incorporate fun exercises that help foster teamwork while remaining professional (e.g., cooking classes, offsite retreats).
Partnering with an employee assistance program can be an effective way to develop a comprehensive, holistic approach to employee well-being. By offering a variety of services and minimizing potential stigma in the workplace, EAPs can provide employees with resources and support that might otherwise be unavailable.
Employees increasingly express an interest in working for companies that can demonstrate a true commitment to their mental well-being. It is no longer enough to simply offer mental health care through a company-sponsored health insurance program or provide one-off mental health services.
Instead, companies can - and should! - foster an environment that promotes productivity, creativity, and overall well-being for their employees. Doing so is not only good for the individuals but also for the organization as a whole.
When you partner with Ulliance, our Life Advisor Consultants are always just a phone call away to teach ways to enhance your work/life balance and increase your happiness. The Ulliance Life Advisor Employee Assistance Program can help employees and employers come closer to a state of total well-being.
Investing in the right EAP or Wellness Program to support your employees will help them and help you. Visit https://ulliance.com/ or call 866-648-8326.
The Ulliance Employee Assistance Program can address the
• Stress about work or job performance
• Crisis in the workplace
• Conflict resolution at work or in one’s personal life
• Marital or relationship problems
• Child or elder care concerns
• Financial worries
• Mental health problems
• Alcohol/substance abuse
• Interpersonal conflicts
• AND MORE!
Have some question about our services? Book a quick meeting below!
Mental Health Has Become a Business Imperative; Josh Bersin; MIT Sloan Management Review, https://onemindatwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/OMI-CHRO-Series-White-Paper-2021-FINAL-2.pdf
Research: People Want Their Employers to Talk About Mental Health; Kelly Greenwood, Vivek Bapat, and Mike Maughan, Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2019/10/research-people-want-their-employers-to-talk-about-mental-health
The Future of Work Demands a Holistic Approach to Mental Wellness; Heather Bolton, Spiceworks, https://www.spiceworks.com/hr/engagement-retention/guest-article/the-future-of-work-demands-a-holistic-approach-to-mental-wellness/
Workers Appreciate and Seek Mental Health Support in the Workplace, American Psychological Association, https://www.apa.org/pubs/reports/work-well-being/2022-mental-health-support