Enhanced Mental-Health Offerings Pay Off With Employees

As companies look to retain talent, stave off burnout and improve overall wellness, the topic of mental health in the workplace has become more prevalent. Employers are addressing the issue in different ways: Many have tried ad hoc mental health days or even weeks, while others have emphasized work/life balance.

In all, 50% of business professionals said their job has negatively impacted their mental health in the past year, according to a new Office Pulse study of 355 white-collar workers across North America. Women were more likely than men to feel this negative impact (54% vs. 46%).

What’s driving the distress? Workload was the biggest factor that respondents said contributed to mental health issues in the workplace (41%), followed by their manager (20%) and company culture (15%), according to the study. 

That said, nearly three-quarters of professionals (74%) said that their employer provides some form of mental health resources. Of that group, 68% feel that what their employer provides is sufficient. This level of support could stem from companies increasingly learning and growing as more information and data becomes available. An HBR study found availability of many resources provided by employers, such as more time off and mental health days, rose since the start of the pandemic. Office Pulse found resources like access to support groups, free mental health apps and mental health professionals that aren’t covered by insurance topped the lists of resources most commonly provided by businesses.

Which of the following resources does your employer provide?

Support groups 34%
Access to mental health apps for free 29%
Access to mental health professionals outside of insurance 25%
Training for employees to deal with mental health issues in the workplace 22%
Employee-chosen mental health day(s) 14%

Compassionate Colleagues

The job of helping those struggling with mental health issues in the workplace doesn’t stop with the company, C-Suites or managers. Co-workers are getting involved, too. A little under half (44%) of workers have supported a co-worker with mental health issues they’ve faced recently. The form of support ranged from checking in on them outside of work to talking them through a stressful situation. Millennials were the age group most likely to say they’ve checked in on a co-worker (47%), followed by Gen Xers (41%) and Boomers (38%).

The national mental health non-profit Give an Hour recommends looking for five signs to determine if your co-worker needs a check-in: 1) Personality Change; 2) Agitation; 3) Withdrawal; 4) Poor Hygiene; 5) Hopelessness. Reaching out doesn’t need to be a production: Asking – sincerely – how someone is doing can go a long way.

Burning Bright or Burning Out?

How we work could also have an impact on our mental health. Working late or on weekends, or even just answering emails after hours can all play a role in our overall well-being. The study found those who “frequently” or “often” work weekends are 64% more likely than all other workers to indicate their job has negatively impacted their mental health in the last year. Those who “frequently” or “often” answer emails after hours were 59% more likely to say their job hurt their mental health.

Other Insights Include:

  • Half of respondents (51%) think their employer and/or manager is concerned about their well-being
  • Millennials were more likely than other age groups to say their job negatively impacted their mental health recently (54%), followed by Gen Xers (45%) & Boomers (40%)
  • 1 in 4 said their employer provides access to counseling services for mental health for free or via a stipend; another 51% said they get access through insurance
  • The most common way workers care for their mental health is by exercising and meditating 
  • Younger generations are more likely to turn to therapy to cope

How often do you do the following?

Work through your lunch break

28% Frequently
33% Often
17% Sometimes

Answer emails after hours

28% Frequently
28% Often
17% Sometimes

Work more than your shift

20% Frequently
31% Often
22% Sometimes

Work weekends

8% Frequently
10% Often
22% Sometimes

May marks Mental Health Awareness Month, which could be the perfect time for businesses to reevaluate what they’re doing for their employees. While providing a healthy working environment has a clear payoff for the bottom line, it’s also the right thing to do. Call that a win-win.

Editor’s Note: The World Health Organization defines good mental health as a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to contribute to his or her community. Respondents were asked to keep this definition in mind when answering questions throughout the survey.

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