The barriers around mental health are starting to break down, and in the face of “The Great Resignation,” employers who are prioritizing mental wellbeing initiatives will be in a better position to attract and retain talent for the long run.
Uprise Health recently published a report titled “Are you Listening? What Employees Expect from Employers for Mental Health Support”, in which over 1,100 adults were surveyed about how they’re feeling and what they expect from employers moving forwards.
Fifty-six per cent (56%) of respondents considered leaving their jobs during the pandemic, and of those, one in four said mental health needs was the reason for their decision. Seventy-eight per cent (78%) said mental health had been affected by the pandemic; the top reasons including feeling overloaded with work (43%), frustrations with colleagues and leadership (39%), and not being recognized for their work (28%).
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Dr. Jay Spence, a clinical psychologist at Uprise Health explained that a notable trend compared to previous surveys, was the increased attention from HR and benefits teams on improving mental health in the workplace.
He noted that the survey results also included 83% of respondents saying their workplace has been supportive of mental health and 60% being comfortable talking to managers about their personal struggles.
“Compared to a year ago, there has been a significant increase in these numbers, meaning the efforts that have gone into making workplaces less stigmatized against mental health is starting to pay off,” Spence explained.
Workplaces are engaging in a more sophisticated approach towards mental health as the understanding of how it can interfere with talent retention becomes more apparent.
“Another clear trend is that the impact of mental health conditions is considerably larger on younger employees,” he continued.
In the 18- to 29-year-old age bracket, one in three switched jobs in the last six months due to pandemic related stress.
“You attract Gen Z through mental health policies and practices. They’re not as worried about the stigma because it has become more normalized in their conversations. Their expectation is to treat mental health the same as a physical illness,” Spence noted.
The pandemic brought about a heightened sense of burnout and raised the bar for leaders to prioritize mental health support. Spence mentioned that initially this can appear to be a confusing task, but by breaking down individual, team and organizational factors, the entire process becomes less daunting.
“Resilience training and coaching programs help employees deal with the stress they’re enduring, and this has to be done in conjunction with team-related factors,” he said.
Looking at strengthening leadership training processes is also key, so leaders are aware of how to build psychologically safe environments.
“This is a large and complex area because there are so many factors that go into creating standard team building practices,” said Spence. “There are also opportunities to improve the way organizations address mental health through job designs which is getting to the core of getting rid of causational factors.”
When employees are properly supported on an individual and team basis, it leads to more engagement, retention, and productivity for an entire organization.
“There’s a host of research regarding improvements in psychological capital which are correlated with real-world outcomes,” Spence continued. “A key area organizations’ should be starting to focus on is work design practices. If they start working on it now, the outcomes they’re looking for will come with time.”