During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, as people grappled with hybrid or remote work setups, office closures, and heightened professional stress, employee mental health suffered. Despite the subsequent return to office environments over the past three years, mental health remains a persistent challenge in many organizations.
Recent findings by the Business Group on Health reveal a concerning reality: 77% of employers surveyed observed a surge in mental health challenges among their teams in the past year. While this has prompted some employers to enhance their investment in employee resources, further enhancements are imperative.
The American Psychological Association’s 2023 Work in America survey reinforces this urgency, highlighting a glaring disparity between leadership and workforce perception. Over 50% of the employees surveyed believe their employers overestimate the mental health-friendliness of their work environments. Furthermore, more than half of these employees report burnout-related symptoms, including decreased engagement, reduced productivity, and increased irritability toward colleagues and clients
Furthermore, other research has shown minorities are much more likely to experience severe or even fatal workplace stress. Many members of these underrepresented groups report they are also less likely to feel comfortable openly sharing about mental health challenges they experience in the workplace.
To retain diverse top talent and boost productivity and engagement, leaders must prioritize employee mental health. This requires a culture assessment, spotting morale-draining blind spots, and equipping teams and individuals with vital resources to address mental health challenges effectively.
The Link Between Company Culture and Employee Well-Being
Companies that build positive cultures based on strong values have happier and healthier employees. Creating psychologically-safe workspaces, devoid of fear, reduces stress and boosts engagement. Offering health and wellness resources supports employees in prioritizing self-care.
As a leader, delaying these culture changes isn’t viable. According to a Future Forum report, workplace stress has peaked since Spring 2021, with over 40% of respondents reporting burnout, particularly affecting women and workers under 30.
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4 Strategies for Addressing Post-Pandemic Mental Health Challenges
For practical tips on bolstering your teams’ mental well-being, take a look at these four strategies to kickstart positive changes today.
1. Incorporate Mental Resilience Habits
Work with your employees on how to build better habits into their lives. Encourage them to take breaks during the workday and to create reminders to drink water so they stay hydrated. Oftentimes we don’t realize how bad habits, such as poor sleep and nutrition, can dramatically impact our stress, focus, and productivity. When your employees practice unhealthy habits, their work ultimately suffers.
Introduce your team to new tools such as habit tracking apps that can help them reach their health goals faster or consider establishing a corporate wellness program to stress the importance of health and wellness not only at home but also in the workplace.
2. Introduce Apps and Resources to Support Self Care
Along these lines, providing them access to self-care tools, such as the Arootah Habit Coach app, meditation apps, and mental health webinars can go a long way. Apps can be more effective than you think in supporting sustainable self-care practices. In fact, Mental Health America noted that some apps are just as effective as traditional face-to-face talk therapy, in helping people manage mental health problems. Apps that focus on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can go a long way in helping your team deal with mental health challenges like depression, OCD, and anxiety.
Invest in Coaching Programs
Coaching programs — from life coaching to career coaching to health coaching — provide a myriad of benefits and can make a huge difference in the lives of many individuals. When you provide coaching services to your employees, coaches work with team members on a personalized basis, helping them formulate a path to success based on their individual goals and challenges. This type of resource can feel far more meaningful than simply providing a team member with a one-size-fits-all resource on mental health.
One study from the International Coaching Federation found that wellness-related coaching programs can decrease average stress levels and that, after coaching, stress remains low for as long as nine months after, thanks to the learned experiences and social support individuals glean through the coaching process.
Implement Holistic Wellness Programs
Lastly, ensure that your organization’s health and wellness programs are both comprehensive and inclusive. Introduce holistic programs focused on the physical, mental, and emotional needs of employees that also account for health disparities underrepresented groups face.
While there is an up-front cost for corporate wellness programs, there is a high ROI. As the Society for Human Resource Management notes, by implementing supportive wellness programs in your organization, you’ll see lower healthcare costs, increased productivity, and increased employee engagement.
The Bottom Line
While we are no longer in a pandemic, mental health challenges continue to impact employees and prevent them from reaching peak performance. It’s imperative organizations prioritize ongoing mental health support to improve company culture and minimize burnout. Luckily, you can begin making changes today to support your teams’ mental health needs by offering them the tools and resources they need for change, while making positive changes to your company’s culture.
Want to learn more? Check out Arootah’s corporate wellness programs and see how your organization could benefit from our years of experience promoting corporate wellness in the finance industry.