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Supporting Employee Mental Health is Good For Business

Learn how employers prioritizing employee mental health will likely reap the rewards with employees who want to stay with the company.

Employees face all types of stressors in and out of work. Yet, traditional workplace models often fail to include mental health along with the concept of benefits that support well-being. According to the World Health Organization, one in every eight people has a mental health condition. Anxiety and depression are two of the most common concerns, with 301 million people living with an anxiety condition and 280 million living with depression. Yet, a staggering 85% of mental health conditions go untreated.

Nearly 80% of employees believe that they can successfully avoid severe mental health conditions or clinical-level care if they routinely prioritize their mental health. Employers who meet these needs with corresponding benefits will likely have more success recruiting and retaining employees. Furthermore, such benefits can reduce the economic consequences of mental health conditions related to productivity loss and missed work days. Employers who commit to understanding workplace burnout and prioritizing mental health in the workplace are likely to reap the rewards with highly engaged employees who want to stay with the company. 

Why Prioritizing Employee Mental Health Matters

Everything from personal responsibilities to workplace changes and economic uncertainties causes stress for employees, affecting their ability to work effectively. How employees deal with that stress depends on the level of support their employer provides. Over half of the US workforce is currently on the burnout spectrum. Burnout leads to exhaustion, disengagement, and decreased efficiency, affecting the company's bottom line. More importantly, employees recognize the danger of such stressors to their health and well-being. A Forrester study conducted on behalf of Modern Health revealed that 80% of employees are more likely to stay at a company that provides high-quality resources to care for their mental health. 

Resilience refers to the ability to bounce back from stress. When employers develop benefits that build organizational resilience by prioritizing mental health, they are more likely to retain top talent and improve organizational performance.

How to Prioritize Mental Health in the Workplace

Mental health is a complex issue that requires multisectoral services and solutions. When employers apply a multifaceted approach to support and protect the mental well-being of their workforce, they can minimize losses due to poor retention and mental health conditions. Consider how these methods could help prioritize mental health in your organization.

Build Mental Health into the Culture

Cultivating a culture of acceptance can create a psychologically safe place where employees feel comfortable being themselves. Approaches include encouraging collaboration that provides for calculated risks and an environment that accepts mistakes as part of the learning process. By developing policies that support employees' mental health and providing accessible resources, employers can eliminate mental health stigma that often prevents employees from seeking help.

Add Mental Health to the Benefits Packages

Overall well-being includes mental well-being, and the benefits package you extend to employees should reflect that. Mental health benefits that address the needs of an entire workforce should be well-rounded enough to handle the varied needs of a large group of employees. They should include accessible mental health care options and benefits like dependent care coverage and flexible work hours that can eliminate personal stressors.

Create Opportunities for Employees to Share

Employees bring their whole selves to work, including emotions and experiences that occur in and outside work. Provide a way for employees to express themselves safely, without judgment, when feeling stressed, burnt out, sad, anxious, etc. Leaders can set the tone for such opportunities by sharing their struggles and concerns.

Offer Flexible Work

Remote work is one of the number one benefits employees seek when searching for a new job. When offered the chance to work remotely, 87% of employees take it. However, flexibility is about more than a remote or hybrid schedule. When possible, allow for flexible hours enabling employees to address their personal concerns and responsibilities on an ongoing basis.

Promote Healthy Habits

Habits that promote overall good health also support mental well-being. Promote healthy habits like getting enough sleep and not skipping meals by creating firm policies about overtime and weekend work. Enforce these policies, so overdependence on willing employees during times of need doesn't creep into your organizational structure.

Provide Resources and Support

Accessible mental health care should be available to all employees to meet their needs inside and outside the workplace. For example, offering access to culturally centered care or remote access to care can mean employees are more likely to use the benefits you provide. By routinely reviewing measurable data, you can better understand what benefits are being used by your employees.

Promote Learning and Development

Employees want development opportunities that give them a reason to stay with their company. Research shows that 68% of employees say they would stay with their employer throughout their career if their employer made an effort to upskill them, but 40% of employees don't see a clear path to advancement. Showing employees a clear path to advancement within your organization, can motivate employees to become more engaged and boost retention.

Cultivate a Sense of Belonging

A job is more than a role that provides a paycheck for services rendered. A workplace is a community of individuals that come together to achieve specific goals. Employees who feel like they belong to such a community are more likely to be engaged and productive in their roles. Psychological safety is a pivotal part of developing a sense of belonging. In a survey of 1,000 global employees, 90% said psychological safety is important for productivity and retention, preventing mistakes, and creativity at work. However, only 10% of companies prioritize psychological safety at work.

To cultivate a sense of belonging for all employees, create an environment where all employees feel psychologically safe, accepted, and welcomed for all aspects of their identities in a group setting. This can be accomplished by making sure that the organization's language, behaviors, values, and benefits are inclusive of all employees from all backgrounds and cultures.

Encourage Employees to Take Time Off

A large contributing factor to burnout and exhaustion is not taking time to unplug, decompress, and leave work behind for a vacation that can revive energy and engagement upon return. While many companies offer paid time off, employees often don't feel comfortable using these benefits. More than half of Americans don't use all their vacation days, and those who do often continue to take calls and check work emails. 

Taking time off from work can reduce symptoms of burnout and leave employees feeling recharged when they return to their duties. Providing paid time off isn't enough. Employees should be encouraged to use all their paid time off and recognize the full value of the benefits offered. This behavior starts from the top when company executives and managers set an example by putting the office aside and taking vacation regularly.

Positive Impacts of Retaining Employees

A Modern Health study revealed that 87% of employees want their employer to care about their mental health, but only 66% believe their employer actually does care. Furthermore, 79% of non-managers and 81% of managers say they would be more likely to stay at an organization that provides high-quality resources to care for their mental health. Quality mental health care is a powerful contributor to high employee retention. 

The positive impacts of retaining employees include:

  • Reducing company costs: High turnover requires an organization to consistently spend money on recruitment, hiring, onboarding, and training. Additional costs are recognized with the loss of every experienced employee.
  • Elevated productivity: Retaining employees means your organization consists of team members with significant experience and company knowledge. Moreover, these experienced employees make up collaborative teams accustomed to working together.
  • Improving company culture: An organization with high retention levels builds a culture of belonging where employees feel like they're part of a community. Such a culture promotes a sense of belonging and pride in how an employee's achievements affect the entire company.

Employees are prioritizing their mental health and prepared to defend their needs for accessible mental health care by leaving organizations that fail to meet those needs. Conversely, companies prioritizing mental health recognize the additional benefits that mental health care provides beyond employee retention. Employees who prioritize their mental health are less prone to burnout and more engaged and productive in their positions. As a result, companies see improved performance, innovation, and production. To learn more about the connections between mental health benefits and retention, download our eBook, Employee Retention Strategies for Organizational Success.

Download our eBook, Employee Retention Strategies for Organizational Success
Modern Health

Modern Health is the comprehensive mental wellness platform that combines the WHO well-being assessment, self-service wellness kits, an international network of certified coaches, and licensed therapists available in 35 languages all in a single app. Modern Health empowers employers to lead the charge in acknowledging that mental health is just as important as physical health, de-stigmatizing the conversation, and increasing accessibility of mental health services for all.