The State of Employee Mental Health in the Workplace

Mental health and adequate stress management are driving forces in today’s workplace. When employees feel better, employees perform better. When employees have tools for success – not only in their roles at work but in their health and overall well-being – they can become engaged team members who can impact your organization’s bottom line.

The days of treating employee mental health with any kind of stigma are long gone (thankfully). If the last year has shown us anything, it’s that our employees need support and access to mental health resources in a way they have not before. With this shift in perspective, increased awareness around the impact of stress and mental well-being is becoming commonplace in many organizations across the country.

In a recent study with the HR Research Institute, nearly two-thirds of HR professionals said that the mental health of their employees is among the top 5 priorities of their companies. Dive into the costs of stress at work and what a holistic wellness initiative can do to support employee mental health.

The Cost of Stress at Work

Research shows that nearly a quarter of employees have left a job due in part to their mental health. Stress is also the most reported mental health issue amongst employees over the last 12 months, unsurprisingly. But not all stress is “bad.” Some stress helps us focus, be more productive, and accomplish tasks. This type of stress tends to be short-term and usually within most people’s coping abilities. This positive stress can be useful for employee engagement and stimulation.

Negative emotional stress, however, and the kind that has impacted us during the pandemic, tends to cause long-term anxiety and is perceived to be outside of our coping abilities. While HR leaders can’t eliminate all types of negative stress at work, when we provide a safe environment and coping tools to our employees, we create psychological safety, focus, pacing, flexibility, and engagement.

Check out our webinar with mental health experts Dr. Jess Williams and Bianca Coleman for more tangible tips on how to support your employees’ mental health.

Additionally, with the introduction of the pandemic, work/life balance became another stress factor amongst employees. Caring for children, working remotely, and struggling to stay connected have increased the burden on many employees’ mental health, especially amongst women.

The cost of continued stress at work is too high a price to pay. Over 200 million workdays are lost due to mental health conditions each year, costing around $16.8 billion in employee productivity. The number is actually much higher if we look at the overall cost of job stress in the U.S., with a price tag estimated at over $300 billion annually as a result of accidents, absenteeism, employee turnover, diminished productivity, insurance costs, and workers’ compensation. Reducing these incidents and providing a better quality of life for employees will greatly impact your company’s profitability and performance.

This is where a comprehensive wellness solution comes in to support your efforts. While there are some activities you can do that will improve the health and safety of people returning to the office, you can also provide mental health support to your employees with wellness initiatives. Offering “wellness days” to protect mental health, providing programming for people to practice mindfulness or meditation to mitigate stress, or increase access to credentialed mental health experts.

Peak Performance from Healthy Employees

We have known for some time that research shows there is real potential for medical and productivity savings for employers who are able to reduce health risks among their workers. Employees who manage stress, take care of their physical health, exercise, eat well, interact with others, and support their mental well-being are employees who come to work every day ready to give their best. They take fewer days off work and are higher producers. In fact, happy workers are 13 percent more productive.

Almost half of the survey respondents said that their organization’s wellness offerings reduced work-related stress among employees. This is great news for employers looking for specific, measurable ways to bring healthy minds and peak performance to their organizations.

What’s Next for Companies to Support Employee Mental Health?

When asked about the efforts of their employers to provide support for their mental health, most HR professionals who responded said that employee assistance programs are their top choice for support, followed by flexible work arrangements and access to information about behavioral health management. 54 percent said that their companies are doing an excellent job helping their employees address stress and mental health concerns.

So, wait a minute. Why is stress still such a prevalent issue at work? For starters, avoiding stress and coping with stress are two very different things. As employees navigate a “new normal” and continually developing pandemic situations, there is an increased need for companies to understand existing mental health issues and underlying problems.

It’s not enough to create calm, amenity-ridden work environments that reduce stress (although we’re huge proponents of this!), organizations need to create support for ongoing mental health and wellness through the use of education, regular check-ins, supportive communication, DEI initiatives, and policies that promote mental health as a priority. Companies that recognize the need for adaptable, research-based wellness will continue to stay ahead of mental health issues at work.

However, with multiple point solutions, it can be challenging for HR and employees to navigate which provider can offer the support they need. We recommend a comprehensive and holistic wellness solution that offers mental health, and stress management, support in addition to other wellness initiatives that will be of interest to diverse employee populations. With Burnalong, we are able to support everyone in your workforce with nearly 50 categories and nearly 30 percent of our 13,000 classes taken in the specialty category (which includes mental health support, stress management, mindfulness, etc.).

Taking Wellness Initiatives to the Next Level

Don’t fall victim to the impact of stress on workplace productivity and the monetary cost you’re your workers’ mental health is suffering. And if you can, make sure that you don’t miss out on the positive influence of happy, healthy employees on your bottom line and retention rates by focusing on mental health support and comprehensive benefits.

In a year when so much of the world was turned upside down, companies cannot afford to ignore the mental and emotional health of their employees. A work culture shaped in healing and wholeness is a work culture that helps employees thrive and improve outcomes.

To learn more, check out the full report to look deeper into the effects of stress and poor mental health on employees and their organizations. You can also reach out to us to learn more about how a single wellness solution can support all of your mental, physical, and financial wellness initiatives next year.

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