- Walmart is doubling the number of free counseling sessions it annually offers employees and their families, Kim Lupo, the company’s senior vice president of global total rewards, said in a blog post. Each worker, including part-time employees and new hires, and their dependents will be eligible for 20 therapy and mental health sessions every year, up from 10 previously.
- The expansion builds on Walmart’s April rollout of a new Workplace Mental Health course for company leaders on how to help workers who might be dealing with a behavioral health issue. Within the first four weeks of its offering, more than 10,000 employees took the course, the company said.
- “Ensuring access to quality mental health support is paramount” to Walmart, Lipo said.
Employers are prioritizing mental health benefits in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Society for Human Resource Management’s annual benefits survey last year showed that mental health coverage and telehealth services were some of the most important benefits employers say they can provide to workers. Those who said they were offering mental health coverage hit a record high of 91%.
For employers, these benefits can be crucial recruiting and retention tools.
In a survey of 2023 college graduates, nearly all who responded said employers should should offer mental health benefits. More than a third said they would prioritize companies offering those benefits during their job searches.
Walmart’s increased focus on mental health and wellness ties into a larger trend among employers offering greater benefits to workers beleaguered by the pandemic and other stressors.
Walmart came under scrutiny in 2022 after a supervisor opened fire inside a store in Chesapeake, Virginia, killing six workers and injuring others. Surviving workers filed lawsuits alleging they had warned the company about the suspect prior to the shooting, but Walmart had failed to protect them.
One employee’s lawsuit alleged that Walmart management knew in advance of the shooting that the supervisor was acting “inappropriately, bizarrely and dangerously” and was “known for being a mean and cruel supervisor.” That lawsuit says the company negligently hired and retained the supervisor.
A recent report by McLean & Co. identified psychological safety as an integral part of employee well-being. A work environment that is psychologically safe is one that makes sure workers feel protected from physical, emotional and psychological harm; promotes health; and handles problems responsibly, McLean said.