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Addressing Workplace Mental Health

By January 25, 2024General
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Employee anxiety, stress, depression and burnout are running rampant across organizations and industries. Inc. magazine reports employee unhappiness has jumped to its highest levels on record.

Researchers say a permanent state of crisis, dubbed “permacrisis,” is increasing mental health challenges. This permacrisis mentality started with the global pandemic and continues with environmental disasters, political unrest, international wars, inflationary concerns, fears of artificial intelligence and other ongoing challenges.

Mental health is a complex issue without simple solutions. However, organizations that ignore the current challenges risk employee well-being and business success, notes the human resources association SHRM.

Ignoring Mental Health Could Come at a High Cost

Recognizing and addressing workplace mental health challenges can help you limit turnover, increase productivity and combat higher healthcare costs.

Workplace mental health particularly impacts turnover rates. According to SHRM, 49% of employees whose job worsened their mental health over the past six months are likely to search for a new job. This number compares with 23% for those whose job doesn’t affect their mental health and 14% whose job enhances their emotional well-being.

Younger employees are even more likely to focus on mental health benefits, indicating the growing significance of this issue. More than 60% of Generation Z employees and nearly 50% of millennials would be likely or very likely to leave their current jobs for an organization that offered better mental health benefits.

SHRM reports that 30% of employees feel overwhelmed by work. And 29% feel anxious once a week or more.

Top workplace factors affecting mental health include:

  • Workload
  • Compensation
  • Staffing levels
  • Management conflict
  • Lack of professional development

Solutions to Address Workplace Mental Health

The good news is your employees want your help addressing mental health issues. And you can make a measurable difference.

Compared with last year, 45% of employees expect more employer mental health support. Research shows your efforts can positively impact your employees’ well-being and performance. More than 30% of employees say their job has improved their mental health, according to SHRM.

Employees cite paid or unpaid time off as the most helpful mental health support. They are also seeking affordable and accessible mental health coverage in health care benefits. Another top choice is free or subsidized virtual mental health care resources.

SHRM also reports employees want more control over their schedules, including flexible start and stop times, part-time roles, job-sharing opportunities, remote and hybrid roles, and breaks during the workday.

In addition, the following organizational factors can improve employees’ mental health:

  • Meaningful, purpose-driven jobs
  • Reasonable workloads
  • Fair pay
  • Career paths
  • Social connections
  • Work-life balance
  • Psychological safety

A Multidimensional Approach

For an issue as complex as mental health, there isn’t a single solution. SHRM recommends a multidimensional approach. Offerings to improve mental health may include:

  • Paid mental health days
  • Yoga and mindfulness classes
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Mental health apps
  • Support groups
  • Mandatory mental health training for employees and supervisors
  • Mental health education and workshops

Talk to your benefits adviser to learn more about the growing importance of workplace mental health. They can help you examine your current benefits offerings and potential solutions for improving employee well-being.

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Author Jamie Ross

Jamie Ross leads the Marketing and Communications team at Wedgwood Insurance, renowned as one of Atlantic Canada’s premier independent insurance brokers. Bringing a wealth of experience amassed over many years at some of Canada's most esteemed advertising agencies, Jamie transitioned to the insurance industry in 2017. This pivotal move has marked a period of significant professional growth and contribution to the field. A native Nova Scotian, Jamie has been a resident of St. John's, NL, since 2011, where he has become an integral part of the local community. Learn more about Jamie.

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