- HR technology vendor Phenom will offer $1,000 to each of its 331 U.S. employees to put toward their mental health in 2022, the company told HR Dive in an email.
- The benefit is separate from coverage provided via the company's health plan for workers and is instead funded through a health reimbursement agreement, Brad Goldoor, the company's chief people officer, said in a separate email. Employees must have a minimum of 30 days of employment to receive the benefit.
- "As the workplace dynamic has changed drastically since early 2020, employees and job seekers have become more aware of companies' emphasis on mental health," said Goldoor. "An empathetic culture isn't enough; talent now expects organizations to openly acknowledge the importance of mental health and demonstrate how they will promote it."
During the pandemic, organizations responded to the wave of stressors that befell employees and their families in part through their benefits programs. This included announcements from large employers such as Walmart and Amazon, both of which either expanded or added access to subsidized mental health counseling services for employees.
The response to mental health concerns was swift among employers early on in the pandemic, according to a 2020 survey by consulting firm Gartner, which found that more than half of a group of 50 HR leader respondents said their firms provided new well-being support for employees. Nearly half of employee respondents who said their organizations offered a mental well-being program in 2020 made use of those programs.
As the pandemic drags on, however, some cracks may be showing in mental health programs. For example, a November 2021 survey by HR services firm LifeWorks found that one-quarter of U.S. employee respondents did not plan to use their employer's mental health support benefits, with one-quarter of this contingent citing barriers such as confidentiality, cost or lack of knowledge about how to access the benefits. Those figures come at a time in which analysts have shown concern about the loneliness and isolation facing workers, particularly those who remain remote or off-site.
Goldoor said avoiding cost barriers was a key motivation behind announcing the company's mental health benefit; "As the pandemic continues to weigh on all our minds, we do not want our employees to think twice about accessing mental health resources if they need them. Unfortunately, many therapists don't accept health insurance, which can significantly reduce the upfront cost of therapy."
The company's $1,000 contribution is not considered part of an employees' income and the funds are available to all U.S. employees whether they are enrolled in the Phenom's health benefits or not. Goldoor added that the company encourages employees to use the benefits wherever they feel the most comfortable.