Employee Mental Health and How it Affects Your Organization
As burnout and wellness concerns continue to rise, it’s become increasingly important for organizations to takeemployee mental health seriously. Work-related stress is one of the biggest factors influencing mental health, and seemingly simple considerations on the employer’s end can make a world of difference to team members. Read on for tips to help your company reduce operational risks, educate team members about healthy habits and focus on well-being in the workplace.
What is Mental Health and Why Does it Matter?
The three components of mental health include an individual’s physiological, emotional and social well-being. When mental health fluctuates, it can impact how a person processes feelings and reacts to situations.
Mental and physical health are essential to an individual’s overall well-being, and the two components are connected on several levels. For instance, severe stress or depression can lead to physical health problems and even long-term illnesses such as heart disease or diabetes. In fact, some of the most common health conditions in the United States are related to mental illness.
Mental illnesses can be hereditary, or they can be brought on by traumatic events or untreated health issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website references several psychiatric studies and surveys that provide staggering statistics on mental health education:
One in five people will experience mental illness each year.
More than 50% of the population will be diagnosed with a mental illness in their lifetime.
One in 25 people live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or depression.
Impacts of Poor Mental Health in the Workplace
Mental distress or illness can have a negative effect on workplace safety. Employees struggling with wellness concerns may experience fatigue or an inability to focus on tasks. This can lead to poor decision-making or a willingness to take unnecessary risks, especially when dangerous equipment or hazardous substances come into play.
Research from Eastern Kentucky University found that stress-related distractions or fatigue cause between 60% and 80% of workplace accidents.
Burnout is one of the most common symptoms of poor mental health in the workplace. Employee burnout stems from chronic and unmanaged workplace stress.
Nearly 90% of workers experience burnout, with 60% reporting high levels of burnout, according to a Catalyst survey published by the American Psychiatric Association Foundation.
Employers can monitor and reduce burnout by offering support, manager training and team surveys. Making adjustments to schedules and providing employee assistance programs can also prove useful in managing burnout.
Failure to address or offer assistance to employees struggling with mental health can have huge consequences for an organization. For instance, an increase in accidents and injuries can result in higher worker’s compensation costs.
In addition, ignoring mental health can lead to heightened workplace conflict. Overworking employees and micromanaging productivity, for example, will often lead to resentment among employees. Neglect from leadership, meanwhile, can trickle down to team members who disagree with certain management tactics — and can create a toxic work environment.
Ultimately, poor morale can hurt business performance, stakeholder perception, talent acquisition and, consequently, profitability. For more information, download our Impact of Employee Mental Health and Well-being on the Workplace sheet.
Supporting Employee Mental Health in the Workplace
There are several ways companies can improve mental health in the workplace. Here are five strategies that help support employee wellness:
- Mental Health Awareness — Having an open dialogue about mental health in the office can make team members feel safe and comfortable about the concept. It also increases the likelihood that employees will approach managers or coworkers about wellness concerns.
- Flexible Scheduling — Employees struggling with work-life balance may benefit from more flexibility in the workplace. Frequent breaks, mental health days, hybrid schedules and flexible work hours are solutions many companies have embraced in the last few years.
- Addressing Stress — Surveys show most Americans admit to feeling work-related stress. Providing resources and guidance to help manage stress can relieve tensions and establish healthy coping mechanisms.
- Employee Benefits and Resources — Many organizations have reevaluated benefit offerings to ensure employees have access to mental health services and resources. Examples may include upgrading employee insurance coverage to include therapy sessions or offering paid time off for mental health concerns.
- Manager Training and Education — Management should be able to recognize signs of mental illness, excessive stress and bullying in the workplace. Every organization should implement a program that teaches leaders how to handle mental health concerns and meet regularly to address environmental factors contributing to stress.
Fostering a supportive work environment that prioritizes mental health proves to employees you care about them as individuals and value them beyond their work achievements. By creating a wellness-positive atmosphere, you can improve workplace culture and prevent anxiety about mental health in employees.
Mental Health Employee Benefits Trends to Watch in 2023
Current and environmental events can have major influences on employee mental health. Economic downturns, international conflicts, political updates and natural disasters are a few examples of current events that cause emotional distress. Here’s how employers are responding to the top mental health and employee benefits trends in 2023:
- Mental Health Programs — Last year, nearly half of large companies reported an increase in workers using mental health services and paid leave requests. To support the need for additional resources, many organizations will offer assistance programs apart from regular health plans.
- Scheduling Flexibility — Several businesses have adopted policies to better suit a dispersed workforce since the pandemic. Now, more companies are giving employees autonomy over their schedules, increasing workweek flexibility and offering hybrid alternatives.
- Virtual Health and Wellness — Telemedicine has become increasingly popular since COVID-19, especially for nonemergency healthcare visits. Companies are adding coverage for virtual therapy, specialist visits and access to on-demand health professionals.
- Mental Health Education — Companies have found through surveys that many individuals experience burnout or stress without understanding how to manage it. Manager training, employee communications, seminars and educational sessions about mental health literacy are a few resources employers use to combat these statistics.
- Improved Focus on Individuals — The concept of nurturing employee wellness has proved beneficial for many corporations. Checking in on employees more frequently and having candid discussions about mental health can help address concerns in a timely manner.
Prioritizing employee well-being can help businesses maintain productivity, keep workers engaged and even attract new talent. If you’re looking to improve your mental health offerings, visit our website to learn more about our benefits plans and programs or contact an advisor today. BCH is here to help you keep team members happy and healthy when it matters.