Prioritizing Employee Mental Health

Prioritizing Employee Mental Health | Kathleen Duffy

Prioritizing Employee Mental Health

Prioritizing Employee Mental Health – Committing to Creating a Supportive Workplace.

As a recruitment leader, I’ve had many conversations with CEOs who want to respond strategically to the post-pandemic challenges today’s business leaders are facing. They want to implement policies that will help them retain their top talent. Moreover, they want to ensure that their corporate culture is a welcoming and safe place where diverse employees are able to excel. Likewise, they want to transform their workplaces to attract the next generation of skilled contributors.

I explain to these CEOs that it’s possible to address all three concerns. My recommendation? Demonstrate a clear commitment to supporting employee mental health.

There is a much greater awareness of the importance of employee mental health support as a business imperative. But awareness is only the first step. New research has revealed the impact that a commitment to creating a supportive workplace can have. Not only on employee well-being but on productivity and retention. 

In a survey of more than 11,000 U.S. employees across 17 industries by Mental Health America, 78% of respondents said that workplace stress is affecting their mental health. However, fewer than half of all those surveyed said that their manager encourages them to take off time when needed. Only 34% said that their company’s leadership speaks openly about mental health. Less than half reported any familiarity with their company’s mental health services. In addition, only 38% would be comfortable using those services.

These are disturbing statistics. An annual seminar on mental health awareness is not enough. Employees have a right to expect physically and mentally healthy workplaces. This means action. It means committing to addressing the factors that can contribute to poor mental health. In other words, connecting policies and practices to discussions of employee well-being. Likewise, investing in significant responsive cultural change.

I share with my clients the data that prove that committing to these changes can create a competitive advantage. The Mind Share Partners’ latest Mental Health at Work Report reveals that half of full-time U.S. workers have left a previous role. This is due, at least in part, to mental health reasons. Those numbers are even higher for Millennials (68%) and critical for Gen Zers (81%). 91% of all respondents stated that a company’s culture should support mental health. 

There’s also an important intersection between a corporate culture that supports mental health and one committed to DEI initiatives. LGBTQ+, Black, and Latinx respondents were all significantly more likely to experience mental health symptoms. Moreover, leave roles for mental health reasons.

But please pay attention to this significant finding: workers who feel supported by their employer are less likely to experience mental health symptoms. Similarly, they are less likely to underperform and miss work. They also have higher job satisfaction and are more likely to stay at their company. They reported trusting their company and its leaders and being proud to work there.

This highlights an opportunity for leaders to respond thoughtfully and implement policies that will ensure a necessary cultural shift. It begins with training leaders, managers, and all employees to create caring workspaces. Employees should be empowered to form mental health employee resource groups to facilitate opportunities to discuss concerns and share support.

Flexible work schedules and continued opportunities for remote work are helpful, but leaders must also implement policies to minimize stress. This might mean enforcing a no-email policy from 7:00 PM to 8:00 AM or designating Fridays as no-meeting days. 

Most of all, leaders need to show that employee health matters. Prioritizing employee mental health should be an organizational priority. Leaders should have open conversations and investment in resources that demonstrate employee well-being as a core value.

Purchase your copy of Revolutionizing Recruitment How Recruitment Research is Reshaping the Industry today and begin optimizing the future of your team!