Mental Health in the Workplace

mental health among healthcare professionals

Image by 123RF

By Denise Macik

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According to a Limeade survey, 40% of employees who quit during the “Great Resignation” cited burnout as their main reason, and 16 percent said they left their current jobs because their company didn’t support their mental health. 

In the wake of the pandemic, more and more companies are recognizing the importance of employee mental health and wellness, and they’re addressing those needs to improve employee satisfaction and to retain and attract top talent. 

In the health-care industry, the need for mental health resources is magnified. In fact, almost six in 10 U.S. health-care workers said their mental health was negatively impacted by stress during the pandemic, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation/The Washington Post survey

To better support those struggling with burnout, depression, and anxiety, a growing number of businesses are providing their employees with mental health resources and flexible workplace options, including employee assistance program offerings, telemedicine options that include mental health care, diverse work schedules, nontraditional working locations, and mental-health awareness training for managers. 

This focus on employee mental health and well-being is a mutually beneficial effort—with companies often experiencing higher rates of employee engagement and loyalty and increased rates of job satisfaction. In a tight labor market—where employee retention is as important as attracting top talent—this can have a significant impact on your company culture and your bottom line.  

Viewing employees through a different lens

The recent announcement of the National 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline launch is a clear sign that we have a mental health crisis in our nation—one that needs as much response as a medical 911 emergency.

Employers, too, have gained a greater understanding of the importance of providing employees with access to a variety of forms of care. Traditional benefits offerings, such as medical, dental, vision, and life insurance are now being enhanced with options that focus on the mind and body.

An employee assistance program (EAP), for example, gives you the ability to provide your employees with access to a variety of services, including mental health services and counseling options, financial and legal assistance, community programs that support work/life balance, care for aging parents, and much more.

Additional mental health resources include a primary health-care plan with mental-health benefits, onsite mental health care, time off for therapy or other mental-health-related appointments, and access to mental health apps.

Creating a supportive culture through mental health awareness and management training

In the last couple of years, we have seen a significant uptick in requests from our clients for mental health awareness training for their managers. This type of organizational investment has helped to open the dialogue about mental health and provide support tools to help manage stress in the workplace and provide a more supportive culture. 

Awareness training can include a variety of topics, such as how to engage remote workers, behavioral management training, how to conduct one-on-one meetings to drive a comfortable and supportive relationship, and how to handle conflict.

To better understand what their employees want, we encourage our clients to ask the question — “How can I help you?” –- then listen to their employees’ answers, take the time to understand individual needs, and respond with empathy and care. 

It’s also important to work with your HR team or labor counsel to provide proper ADA accommodation guidance. In most situations, mental health is an Americans with Disabilities Act-protected illness—another reason to provide your managers with mental-health awareness training and your employees with mental health care options.

With a supportive management team and company culture in place, you can improve employee retention, engagement, and loyalty. When you have happy, engaged employees, everyone thrives. And businesses with these cultures are often more successful and efficient in their operations, thus impacting the bottom line.

Denise Macik is the Manager of Strategic HR Advisory Services for G&A Partners, a leading professional employer organization (PEO), who has been helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses for more than 25 years.

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