Workers want employers that support mental health. But what does that look like?
Eight in 10 U.S. workers surveyed by the American Psychological Association said an employer’s approach to employee mental health will be “an important consideration” when job hunting, according to a recent APA report.
But those ideal resources go beyond health benefits. Employees want flexible work hours, a workplace culture that respects time off, the ability to work remotely and a four-day work week, the survey said.
A large stressor for employees is compensation; 71% of employees surveyed said they are worried about their compensation keeping up with inflation. Additionally, 18% of all employees said they had a somewhat or very toxic workplace; 30% said they experienced harassment, verbal abuse or physical violence in the workplace in the past year.
After over two years of intense change, hard work and personal tragedy, worker mental health is in dire straits, various experts and studies have shown. Between February 2020 and February 2022, searches for “how to ask for a mental health day” grew by 1,000%, according to marketing platform Semrush.
In response, employers have continued to adopt mental health and telehealth coverage, stating they are among the most important benefits they can offer, according to a Society for Human Resource Management survey released in June.
While employers have tried various strategies to improve worker mental health, including whole office shut-downs, organizations are still struggling to articulate an overall well-being strategy, a February Willis Towers Watson report said — despite stating mental health, stress and burnout are top priorities. Mental wellness issues, including financial wellness and behavioral health, are thus often addressed separately with limited success.
Notably, the APA survey points out that the work environment and how the work is done can impact mental health considerably. Employers have continued to warm up to flexible work and hybrid work formats, letting go of considerations such as when and where work gets done and thinking harder about how everyone is contributing.
Flexibility, however, is a cultural challenge — and one HR is responsible for tackling, according to HR Dive’s 2022 Identity of HR survey. As such, to improve general mental health for the long term, managers may need to be trained to work in a hybrid environment, experts told HR Dive.