Between the pandemic and dramatic economic shifts, the last three years have brought increased strain on employee mental health. McKinsey found that 60% of employees have struggled with mental health issues. They found that this directly translates to a worse workplace experience.
Supporting employee mental health is crucial for employee engagement, productivity, and retention. But how can companies help?
We talked to experts from Pinterest, BetterUp, JustWorks, and VMware. Visit the event page for a webinar recording and full list of resources here. In the meantime, here are some strategic frameworks that our speakers recommended.
Mental health doesn’t exist in a vacuum: the workplace greatly affects well-being. That’s why the US Surgeon General recently released a 30-page report and summary on what role the workplace plays in mental and physical health.
The US Surgeon General lists five key factors that contribute significantly to employee well-being: safety, community, balance, purpose, and growth.
As Laura Lomeli Ph. D. from coaching platform BetterUp puts it: “well-being crosses multiple areas: mental, physical, and social. It’s about the connections of all of these facets.” When developing an employee well-being plan, consider ensuring that each of these pillars are addressed.
Not all populations are affected equally by current events or economic uncertainty. Mira Shane, the Diversity and Inclusion Manager at human resource software company Justworks, recommends engaging directly with employee resource groups (ERGs). “Ask them: what does your community want to hear?,” she advises.
By providing information that ERGs care about, you are more likely to make a difference. For example, Justworks’ neurodivergent ERG asked for information on how to advocate for yourself. The session saw great attendance and engagement from that ERG as well as other employees.
If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that the world can change in an instant. Uncertainty has become a certainty.
Rather than resist market and world conditions, Marisa Schafer, Director of Citizen Philanthropy at VMWare, has a different approach. She recommends a method from the Center for Creative Leadership called RUPT. The method recognizes that people are going through Rapid, Unpredictable, Paradoxical, and Tangled times. Since no one can change the times, the best way to move forward is to adopt leadership characteristics that thrive in these contexts.
Each company in the webinar shared specific benefits geared towards employee well-being. Justworks partners with both Peloton and Headspace to offer ways for employees to manage stress. BetterUp provides coaching for all employees to find a way to make their job work for them. VMWare encourages their team to do service learning, their term for volunteering. Once an employee reaches 40 service learning hours, VMWare donates a grant to the nonprofit partner.
Finally, each company provides specific time off for mental health recharges. Examples include additional individual time off, a small cash stipend for mental health time, and company-wide holidays for rejuvenation.
Investing in employee mental health is not just ethically right, but also contributes to organization's success and sustainability. But because mental health is a multi-faceted and complex issue, companies should develop a holistic strategy. While these frameworks can help develop that strategy, it’s important to do what’s best for your company.
What strategies or tactics do you use to foster employee well-being? Let us know in the comments below.