The past several years have presented many challenges to the state of workplace mental health. Pandemic fatigue and uncertainty, coupled with increasing burnout, gave way to exhaustion for workers globally.
Today, more companies than ever support employees’ mental health by offering counseling resources, encouraging mindfulness, and re-instituting work-life boundaries.
Whether ushering teams back into a physical office setting or navigating how to nurture work-from-home employees, companies need to be more aware of the workplace factors contributing to poor mental health and intersections with DEI.
Here’s what to know.
Since the onset of the pandemic, on-demand, and app-based mental health providers boomed, as companies offered workers free or discounted subscriptions for teletherapy like Talkspace or Betterhelp.
According to Headspace, a subscription-based meditation and mindfulness platform, 85% of its partner organizations reported that their employees felt the resource helped with stress, anxiety, and resilience during the COVID-19 crisis.
Guided meditation provider Calm even offered its employees financial services like a monthly wellness stipend for therapy, gym memberships, nutrition programs, or massages.
These are intelligent practices that Navan Expense can help finance leaders manage by using the tools to extend health and wellness stipends weekly, monthly, or yearly.
Still, companies should go beyond just offering these services by promoting them and encouraging their use, so employees do not fear judgment. One way to do that is by setting up recurring subscriptions that employees can automatically expense. This practice helps ensure easy access to resources in various mediums.
A 2019 study by the Harvard Business Review about workplace mental health found that more employees accessed mental health perks when they were readily available—especially those that provided day-to-day support. These benefits included extended or more frequent breaks from work and time during the workday for therapy appointments.
Other organizations are encouraging employees to participate in community circles—an employee resource group, for example. These dedicated clusters may focus on destigmatizing mental health in the workplace or on challenges like coping with political and social unrest.
Of course, encouraging employees to prioritize well-being doesn’t carry any weight if they don’t have time to do so. Many companies are giving workers back time after working at such a high capacity during the pandemic—and encouraging them to take it. According to Ernst and Young, for every ten employee vacation hours provided, the average performance reviews are 8% higher for every employee's vacation hours.
Giving employees time to unplug also helps improve productivity. Companies can encourage and support a flexible lifestyle by deploying a travel management platform that allows employees to book and account for personal trips separately. With the ever-increasing popularity of bleisure travel, workers can now more easily unwind after lengthy business trips.
Investing in diversity, equity, and inclusion resources is crucial when addressing positive mental health practices. Amid the pandemic, Black and AAPI employees were—and still are—hit especially hard by the trauma of systemic racism and violence. They weren’t alone: Caregivers and working mothers faced burnout due to school closures. It’s essential to keep that in mind when implementing resources for mental health and verify that these services promote inclusivity.
Employees who feel empowered by resource groups foster peer listening initiatives, while allies in the workplace make team settings more empathetically sustainable. Companies can better provide the support and resources employees need when people feel comfortable sharing how they think and feel. It promotes wellness as well as connection and retention.
In addition, consider a wide range of topics that might apply to employees’ different life stages and situations. Keep in mind the entire spectrum of mental health, and acknowledge that every individual will have a different perspective.
In the end, more significant mental health means greater productivity and retention for companies worldwide. So make a plan for checking in on employees’ mental health: It helps them feel connected to the organization, as well as safe, satisfied, and proud to be a part of the ongoing efforts.