In a survey of 11,300 employees across 17 industries, employees share what workplace wellness strategies have the greatest impact on their mental health and experience at work.
In Mental Health America’s (MHA) 2021 Work Health Survey of 11,300 employees across 17 industries, 4 in 5 agreed that stress affects their relationships with friends, family, and coworkers, with 1 in 3 employees who strongly agree with this statement. In addition, 56 percent of employees spent time looking for a new position, compared to 40 percent in 2018.
Poor employee mental health is not a new workplace issue. Employee expectations have shifted rapidly in recent years, emphasizing an employer’s responsibility to the well-being of their workforce. In September 2021, 4.4 million people resigned from their positions due to inflexibility, burnout, or a re-evaluation of life priorities. A poor work environment only adds to the stress of living and working through a pandemic. One employee describes their experience at work:
“My company has mental health programs in place…However, my department and team [are] problematic. Between high turnover, heavy workload, unrealistic expectations, and a toxic team environment, it has weighed down on me to the point where I stopped wearing makeup to work because I was crying all the time.”
However, there is hope for companies that aspire to meaningfully improve employee mental health and well-being. Companies need to invest beyond mental health awareness campaigns and conversations to address employee mental health and well-being holistically. Work health survey findings reveal that important strategies to improve employee mental health outcomes include company leadership investment, managerial support, and employee empowerment.
Among the healthiest workplaces, the following strategies were most commonly implemented:
- Establish employee mental health and well-being as a top organizational priority
- Invest in developing supportive and emotionally intelligent people managers
- Provide employees with agency over their work
Levels of stress and distraction are lower among healthier workplaces, and employees in healthy workplaces are less likely to seek out other professional opportunities. In addition, over 48 percent of employees would be comfortable using their company’s supports for a mental health concern in the healthiest workplaces, compared to 7 percent of employees in the unhealthiest workplaces.
All survey findings will be available in MHA’s Mind the Workplace 2022 Report that will be published in April. For more information on current research and workplace mental health resources, please visit www.mhanational.org/workplace.