7 ways to support your people’s mental health
To celebrate World Mental Health Day on October 10, we've teamed up with Mind Share Partners and ServiceNow to uncover the mental health challenges employees are facing and how to better help them...
With boundaries between work and home increasingly blurred, many HR and People Team leaders are being asked to understand and support their employees’ mental health and well-being.
While the vast majority of employees (91%) we spoke with think that company culture should support mental health, more than half say their work environment actually has a negative impact on their mental wellbeing.
The Great Resignation
As many organizations fight to attract and retain talent, a rising percentage of people, especially of younger generations, are leaving jobs because of mental health challenges.
Half of employees (50%) say they have left a previous role due in part to mental health reasons, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. That’s a 47% increase from 2019. And the numbers are even more stark when it comes to Millennials, 68% of whom say they have left a job because of mental health. For Gen Z, 81% say the same.
The mental health experience gap
Amid rising COVID numbers, rapidly changing safety protocols and great uncertainty regarding the future of work, it’s no wonder there are gaps between the employee experience and expectations from leadership.
Here are 7 recommendations based on opinions from more than 1,500 employees and managers across the country as well as input from our employee experience experts here at Qualtrics.
1. Start by talking about it
It may sound simple, but employees say the number one thing holding them back from taking care of their mental health is that leaders don’t talk about it enough at work.
It’s vital for executives and managers to lead by example and make it clear that mental health is a priority. Some companies have even made mental health a ‘key performance indicator’ or enshrined mental health as a company value.
2. Create a culture of trust
An open culture about mental health is the top solution employees would like to see implemented in their own workplaces, ahead of any other mental health tools or perks.
In fact, one of the major things that's taught in a degree in clinical counseling is that you need to foster an environment of trust to ensure that your employees see you as approachable.
Leaders speaking about mental health emphatically and often is an important first step. But it has to extend beyond the leadership level. Roughly two-thirds (65%) of employees say they have talked about their mental health to someone at work in the past year (a 63% increase from 40% in 2019). But less than half (49%) described their experience of talking about mental health at work as positive.
3. Provide engaging work so employees don’t get burnt out
Emotionally draining work, whether it’s stressful, overwhelming or monotonous, is the leading contributor to mental health challenges in the workplace, according to employees. It’s also the top mental health-related reason employees have left previous jobs. Poor mental health can result in difficulty concentrating, thinking, reasoning or deciding.
This might lead workers to be less responsive to emails or slower in completing tasks. In other words, mental health challenges can make a bad job worse. Make sure your employees have the resources and support they need to engage with work in a meaningful way, without sacrificing their wellbeing. Internal employee pulses can help gauge how these efforts are working.
4. Communicate clearly
Clear communication is more important than ever during this time of constant fluctuation regarding return-to-office dates, remote work policies and vaccination requirements.
‘Poor communication practices’ is a top concern for pandemic-weary employees, whose complaints include: confusion around the return to work process or timeline, decisions made without input from employees, a lack of clarity around expectations for productivity and a lack of flexibility.
Communication doesn’t just mean making frequent announcements however, it means opening a two-way channel between leadership and employees to understand needs and make plans in a transparent way.
5. Provide the mental health tools employees really want
While an open culture is the most-wanted mental health resource in the workplace, culture and benefits go hand in hand. Seeking employee input will ensure a company spends money on the tools that employees really want and that will have the greatest impact on their health.
The most commonly used workplace mental health tools include mental health training and insurance coverage.
The most-wanted list includes access to a mental health app that provides coaching, meditation or sleep support, an on-site therapist, clear and available information about where to go for support for mental health and mindfulness education.
6. Root out discrimination and harassment
More than half of workers agree workplace mental health is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) issue. Just over a quarter of people (26%) who have left a job for mental health reasons say that experiencing, witnesssing or hearring about discrimination or harassment was one of the reasons.
Historically underrepresented groups, including LGBTQ+, transgender, Black and Latinx employees were all more likely to leave roles for their mental health and were also more likely to believe a company culture should support mental health.
7. Recognize employees for the work they do
It may be harder to recognize employees for their achievements and hard work in a
remote work world. In particular, caregivers were more likely to report ‘lack of recognition for the work I do’ as worsening (34%), compared to non-caregivers (21%).
One way to address an exodus of caregivers, including women, from the workforce is for leaders to get creative with new forms of recognition. They should replace former traditions, like congratulatory lunches or team parties, with new rewards that employees say they want and that don’t require gathering in-person. If employees feel they are valued as individuals and their work is appreciated, their mental health will benefit.
Read the full Mind Share Partners report in partnership with Qualtrics and ServiceNow
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