Mental Health at Work:How Companies Can Help Employees Thrive

Why employee well-being matters more now than ever, and what businesses can do to support their workers.

In the past two years, workplace mental health support has transitioned from being nice-to-have to a true business imperative. The Covid-19 pandemic has played a significant role in this, as well as landmark cultural and societal movements that have redefined the way we view work.  

It has made us question what we do, why we do it, and perhaps most importantly, who we do it for. People want to work for purpose-driven companies that care about their staff, prioritize their well-being and support them with their mental health.  

Organizations that fail to recognize this will struggle to retain staff or attract new talent, and will likely not survive long-term. 

Why mental health in the workplace matters 

It is estimated we spend more than a quarter of our lives in the workplace. Break that down further and on a daily basis, it is estimated we spend more waking hours at work than at home – and interact more with colleagues than family members. 

Job satisfaction is therefore key, and levels of productivity will depend on things like workplace culture, demands, support and rewards. Getting this right will not only boost employee experience but also help an organization remain competitive. 

According to a recent study by Mental Health America (MHA): 

  • 4 in 5 employees said workplace stress had affected their relationships with friends, family and coworkers 
  • 56% of all surveyed employees had spent time looking for a new position (compared to 40% in 2018) 
  • 2 in 3 employees are not comfortable providing feedback to their manager 
  • 47% of employees know about their company’s mental health services but only 38% said they would be comfortable using them 

These statistics highlight the importance of providing mental health support in the workplace, as well as the potential shortcomings businesses face when doing so. How can leaders cultivate a positive working environment, one where individuals thrive? And how can managers reduce stress while promoting employee well-being? 

What employees want 

An increased transparency of services, reducing stigma and an inclusive workplace culture rank highly among what employees want, and expect from businesses in 2022. 

“Collaboration is a bigger word for us than it was before the pandemic,” a senior figure at a leading European pharmaceutical company told Meet the Boss during a recent event. 

“People come into a company or an organization because they like what it stands for but they’ll leave if they don’t share the same values, or see their work is meaningful.” 

Research by McKinsey & Company in 2021 supports this. Creating an inclusive work culture, one that is free from mental health stigma, is critical to supporting workforce well-being. This is even more pertinent post-pandemic, with the rise of hybrid and remote working models. 

“People working in a hybrid way still want that connection,” the Director of People and Culture at a leading UK smart technology firm told Meet The Boss. 

“Companies should create rituals that celebrate successes and reinforce that positive culture narrative.” 

“Culture is not a static thing – it moves.” 

What employers should be doing 

Mental health prioritization is not just about gaining and retaining employees. When done well, it can benefit the entire organization. 

Here is what best-in-class companies are doing when it comes to mental health in the workplace: 

  • Be transparent 

Make mental health part of your company’s culture by making it part of your company’s conversations. Encourage staff to talk about their mental health without it being thought of in a negative context – either with each other, with a manager or a designated mental health champion – and allow for these conversations to take place organically, either in-person or virtually. 

  • Signpost services 

Ensure all employees know where they can access mental health services, what support is available and what will happen if they use them. Staff must have confidence in the services they use and know there will be meaningful results. 

  • Invest in resources 

Businesses have to show they take mental health seriously. Talking about it isn’t enough, nor is positioning mental health support as a workplace ‘perk.’ Words have to be supplemented by actions that demonstrate your organization’s ongoing commitment to mental health provision. That means investing resources in progressive policies and programs that support your teams. 

  • Well-being policies 

At the heart of all this is an understanding and an acceptance that businesses must prioritize people over profit in 2022. Policy reviews need to be progressive, competitive and industry-leading – like annual mental health days off, volunteering schemes and educational workshops. 

  • Language and values 

Be clear on the language of mental health and what words and terms are acceptable in 2022. Communicate this across all levels of your organization and ensure staff – from the boardroom to the frontline – are familiar with the latest trends and what your company stands for. 

To learn more about how Jugo’s virtual event offering can help you to address the shifting virtual world, check out some more of our insights below. 

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