Organizations have been responding to mental health issues — especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in higher rates of anxiety and depression — with increased resources, managerial training and improved awareness to reduce the stigma of asking for help.
More than nine out of 10 employers have expanded support for mental health and emotional well-being since 2021, while budgets for wellbeing programs increased 22%.1
But how do employers support mental health issues among employees?
The toll of workplace stress on mental health
Employers need to honestly evaluate how the work environment can contribute to mental health issues. And it’s clear that work-related stress contributes to mental health problems among workforces.
Employees cite being underpaid (56%), long hours (54%) and lack of growth opportunities (52%) as the top reasons they are feeling stressed due to work. It’s important to remember that 71% of employees who feel stressed at work will look for jobs in the next 12 months.2
And employees are indeed voting with their feet: The “Great Resignation” is happening in part because employees are seeking better working conditions. Workers realize that too much workplace stress and the resulting decline in their mental health can impact how they engage in their daily life.
Manage risks related to work, environment and culture
Reducing workplace stress that degrades mental health can be challenging in the short run due to the costs and organizational changes involved.
Instead, employers are more likely to add perks available on top of healthcare resources to treat mental health. Free yoga and exercise sessions, concierge services or a meditation app are common quick fixes to the problem. But even when those perks are helpful, employees are often simply too busy to take advantage of them.
However, employers can start to improve their employees’ mental health with the following steps:
- Engage employees in making decisions. Soliciting employee input on a sales strategy, for instance, not only encourages new thinking but shows their opinions are valued. That makes them feel more secure in their job status and less stressed as a result.
- Make addressing work-life balance issues a priority. Employees are often parents, caregivers or another unpaid position demanding their time. They need flexible work schedules that allow them to play caregiver while managing to do all of their work. Providing resources for child and eldercare needs takes a great deal of stress off employees as well.
- Make work environments safe and collaborative. Some jobs can’t be done at home. Whether it’s an office, factory floor or restaurant, employees need open, user-friendly spaces that encourage employee interaction and discourage isolation, as isolation can be a major factor in depression and anxiety.
- Show empathy, compassion and recognition. Employers may realize their employees are burned out and suffering but are uncomfortable acknowledging it. An employer who acknowledges a difficult work environment shows empathy and compassion, while recognizing that the issues are real and employees are not to blame for them.
Contact HUB International’s Employee Health and Performance team to see how we can help improve your workforce to help them cope with the stresses of modern life—and improve retention of top talent.
1 Human Resource Executive, “How much are employers investing in wellness programs?” June 10, 2021.
2 American Psychological Association, “The American workforce faces compounding pressure,” October 4, 2021.