Mental Health in the Workplace: Why Mental Wellbeing Must Be a Priority for Your Organization
May 24, 2021 / Employee Wellbeing Best Practices
Your employees are struggling, and it’s hurting your business
in more ways than one
Mental wellbeing has long been an issue for organizations, but the ripple effects of COVID-19 have brought many to a tipping point. We‘ve now reached a full-blown mental health crisis, propelling us towards epidemic levels of lost productivity, declining wellbeing and absenteeism. Providing the resources, tools and support that employees need to be mentally well is an essential business move. Not only will it ensure the continuation of business success beyond the pandemic, but it’s the right thing to do.
The mental health of employees is more than just a personal issue; it’s a workplace issue. Employee productivity took a major hit in December 2020, with the events outside of the workplace leading to a 92% decrease in focus for employees aged 20-39, 89% for those aged 40-59 and a whopping 380% for employees aged 60 and older. The World Economic Forum predicts that the global cost of poor mental health will rise to $16.3 trillion by the year 2030. To put that in perspective, that’s higher than the predicted $15.6 trillion that will be spent as a result of heart disease and the $8.3 trillion that will be spent on cancer during this same timeframe.
Something must be done, and it must be done now.
It’s time to normalize conversations surrounding mental health in the workplace. The existing stigma felt by employees left 60% of affected individuals afraid to seek support pre-COVID, and roughly one-third of employees feared being fired over their struggles with mental health.[3, 4] But how can employers provide their people with the resources and reassurance they need when so many are dealing with dispersed teams?
With the rapid growth of digital health and our increased use of telehealth services, supporting remote and on-site employees is simpler than one might think.
- Increase access to virtual mental health services: 83% of workers have expressed a desire for their employer to provide access to technology that promotes mental wellbeing, such as self-service resources, on-demand support and wellness apps. Point people in the right direction by creating a central place where they can access the resources they’re seeking, such as a directory of virtual counselors covered by health insurance, educational and actionable self-help information and digital mindfulness or stress management tools that they can access anytime, anywhere.
- Rethink employee benefits: 76% of people feel that businesses should be doing more to support employee mental health,3 and that goes beyond simply offering up mental health resources. Financial concerns are a leading driver of employee mental health issues, and employees are struggling to disconnect from work now that the lines between work and home have become blurred. If, like 85% of organizations, the employee benefits being offered don’t address the four key areas of health—physical, mental, financial and social—it’s likely that these benefits packages are lacking.
- Check-in regularly with remote workforces: It’s easy to let work-from-home populations fly under the radar. As long as they’re showing up to work each day and responding to emails, managers might assume that their remote team members are fine. Maintaining a sense of workplace culture and creating opportunities for communication beyond work-related tasks are invaluable strategies for keeping employees fully engaged, socially connected and mentally well.
- Leverage a digital employee wellbeing platform: Whether organizations are looking for a quick and direct way to share important information like workplace safety protocols and policy changes, or would like to enable employees to connect with coworkers, locate useful resources, learn about their benefits or find a health coach, it can all be found in a comprehensive digital wellbeing platform. By bringing benefits and communications together in one easy-to-access place that can be customized to fit the unique needs of each organization and its people, employees will be more likely to understand and utilize all of the great benefits being offered.
Did you know that 68% of Virgin Pulse members are more aware of their other employee benefits? Discover how our Homebase for Health™ approach unlocks the full potential of employee benefits by increasing awareness and utilization to improve health and business outcomes. Request a demo today.