October 10 is World Mental Health Day, marking an ideal opportunity to consider what your organization is doing to support employees’ mental well-being and where you could make further changes to improve health, satisfaction, and your bottom line.
There’s plenty of research to demonstrate the connection between well-being and the workplace environment. 39% of employees, for example, said that their work environment has had a negative effect on their mental health, proving that the work environment has lingering effects that don’t get left behind at the end of the work day. While they deal with these mental health issues, many employees also find it challenging to get support: only 49% say they received a positive response when talking about mental health at work or seeking support. 81% of employees say that their employers’ level of support for mental health is an important factor in deciding whether to accept (or remain in) a job – indicating that they’re taking this very seriously since it can affect all areas of their lives.
In shaping a response, it’s essential first to understand what the greatest stressors are and where workplace mental health concerns come from. Research from the American Psychological Association found several factors, including:
- 71% of workers are stressed or worried that their pay is not keeping up with inflation.
- 60% of workers who are aware of some form of workplace monitoring or tracking say they feel tense or stressed at work, and 51% say they are uncomfortable with how the monitoring is used.
- 18% of employees describe their workplaces as toxic, while 30% say they have experienced some kind of harassment.
Companies addressing mental health and well-being must approach this in multiple ways. It’s important to provide clear “benefits” like expanded health insurance, but it’s also important to focus on cultural elements. This means developing a more supportive, less intense workplace culture, addressing where DEI intersects with mental health, and improving clarity around sensitive, stressful issues like pay and career development.
For an interconnected approach to these components, the U.S. Surgeon General suggests a five-part “Framework for Workplace Mental Health and Well‑Being” that focuses on five key elements (protection from harm; connection and community; work-life harmony; mattering at work; and opportunity for growth) while indicating how they all relate to each other and a core idea of “worker voice and equity.” This interconnected approach – and suggested solutions – reflects an overarching sense in the HR world, which suggests that addressing mental health stressors at work includes numerous interlocking solutions, such as flexible and hybrid work options, respect for taking time off, stronger ways to address discrimination and toxicity, and improvements in connection and communication at work. Of course, not all these options are workable for all companies or all niches, but every company can do something to emphasize their commitment to worker well-being.
The benefits of investing in mental health and well-being are becoming more evident, from productivity to profits and more. 71% of employers agreed that they can see ROI from their investments in this area – a number especially notable compared to the 23% who said the same just a few years earlier. Employees who are less stressed and more supported are much more likely to be productive, engaged, and happy.
At Kaizen HR, our approach to continuous improvement includes improving how we support and care for employees. This World Mental Health Day, let’s work together to expand these efforts beyond a single day so that employees can grow their careers, excel in their work, and work together every day to achieve excellence without worry.
By Rose Dorta
Are you a high-performing leader or believe you have the potential to tackle a more challenging role? Would you be interested in career opportunities that are seeking these attributes?
I’d love to chat with you and answer any questions that you have. Email me, Rose Dorta, managing director of Kaizen HR Solutions, here.