Championing mental health at work has never been more crucial, more necessary, or more broadly expected.
Viewpoints to workplace well-being have shifted irrevocably since the pandemic threw our mental health into sharp focus. Since then, employers have sweat bullets to meet the evolving needs of their workforce and prioritise people, as well as their well-being, above profits. A logical step for some; a gargantuan leap for many.
The cost of living crisis and the challenges posed by the much longed for end to the pandemic-induced isolation make for a heady mix of vulnerability, inconsistency and unfamiliar emotions. In an ideal world we would drop these on the floor when exiting the office door, but of course we don’t. We can’t.
As mental health stigma recedes, and transparency increases on how effective employers are at supporting mental health, there’s a flourishing business case for supporting employees holistically. A staggering 65% of the young people who left a job in 2021 attributed their decision to mental health – that’s a lot of talent looking for a different kind of employer and an indication of what this generation are seeing as fundamental to their working lives.
Employees in the modern workforce strive for psychological health at home as well as at work – and they will change jobs if they have to in order to find that. Way back then, people looked at work and “life” as two separate things. But in a world where everyone is constantly connected, these two elements overlap. Employees today consider both their jobs and their personal lives to be equal priorities, and they are often unwilling to compromise one for the other.
It’s no secret that employees spend just one or two years at a company before moving onto another opportunity that offers a better work culture (and we often refer to this as job-hopping), but it’s important to realise that employees have very specific values when it comes to the workplace, which revolves around more than just generating an income, or having ‘fun’.
The importance of building a well-being culture is critical. That means creating psychological safety nets, where employees can share their mental health challenges and feel that they’ll be supported instead of penalised. Empowering employees with permission to look after their mental health, including during working hours. However, not putting all the responsibility onto overworked managers, and making it everyone’s responsibility.
Well-being initiatives address important issues like decreasing stress and increasing emotional resilience. Opportunities for employees to pause, refresh, and re-engage increase employee engagement and reduce burnout. Boosting work-life balance, being transparent, and saying “thank you” more often all help boost employee morale.
Ultimately, your employees want to know that they’re not just a “cog in the machine”– they’re a valued part of your business, and their well-being matter. People spend a third of their lives at work – the workplace significantly impacts their well-being. Investing in employee wellness will be an important differentiator for companies to attract and retain talent, especially in younger generations now entering the workforce.