Mental Health and Wellbeing Now Top Priority to Employers, New Survey Finds

Mental Wellness

A new survey has found that there might be a major paradigm shift in the world of employee wellness and wealth as findings suggest that U.S. employers are now placing more priority on employee mental health and emotional wellbeing. 

This is coming weeks after the “quiet quitting” phenomenon began to trend on social media and months after the Great Resignation saw more than 47 million workers voluntarily quit their jobs last year. 

The coronavirus pandemic.has been reported as the most stressful time in the lives of many Americans. With pandemic anxieties, job losses, deaths of family and loved ones, and general anxieties, mental well-being dropped to record-low levels as employees scrambled to pick up the pieces of their lives. 

The 2022 Best Practices in Health Care Survey conducted by leading global advisory, Willis Towers Watson (WTW) in August 2022 has demonstrated a shift in workplace well-being that could reverse the trend in workforce resignations. The survey involved a total of 455 respondents, all of whom were U.S. employers with at least 8.2 million workers combined. 

“COVID-19 took a terrible toll on employees’ lives, including substantially worsening mental health,” said Erin Terkoski Young, senior director for WTW’s Health, Equity & Wellbeing practice. “Although the pandemic may have started to wane, mental health challenges persist. Taking mental health programs to the next level won’t be easy, but employers that succeed will see improvement in productivity, retention, and engagement.”

Findings from the survey revealed that two out of three (67%) U.S. employers plan to make mental health and emotional well-being programs and solutions one of their top three health priorities over the next three years. Further, the report read that the number of employers that intend to offer designated mental health days could triple from about 9% to 30% in the next two years. 

At least 88% of the survey respondents had begun implementing measures to address workforce mental health concerns since the turn of the year. More employers had launched telehealth and virtual mental health services as key strategies to mitigate mental health problems among employees. While 83% of the employers noted that they had telehealth services for mental health up and running, another 9% said they plan to include them in their workplace offerings in the next 10 years. 

Employers are also expanding other workplace mental health offerings, including mental health education and intervention training for managers and leaders, as well as digital health support for employees. 

According to the survey, more than four in 10 employers (44%) provide manager training, such as general mental health education as well as identification and intervention training to help employees dealing with mental health issues. The survey also found that an additional 30% of respondents plan to introduce this training in the next two years. 

Further, nearly four in 10 (38%) employers reported that they already had partnerships with employee resource groups, which provided resources and training to address population-specific mental health issues.  Another 27% say they are planning to introduce these offerings in the next two years. 

The survey also found that more employers are considering robust digital offerings in the form of digital behavioral health support for their employees. These platforms, which may include mental wellness apps and virtual personal coaching models offer mental health tools that help people deal with stress and mental well-being issues.  

According to the survey, two-thirds of employers (68%) currently offer digital behavioral health support while an additional 16% are planning to offer access to these digital health services in the next two years. 

One in six employers (17%) is currently evaluating cultural competencies within the behavioral health provider network, according to the survey, while another 27% are planning to do so in the next two years. This move further personalizes mental health offerings to ensure that not only are mental health solutions being provided, but they are culturally sound and appropriate, therefore relevant, for a given population. 

These changes represent a major shift in the corporate wellness landscape. Employees have reiterated that they can no longer keep up with the inadequacies of the conventional workplace wellness model forcing employers to take responsibility of changing the narrative. 

Wellbeing is a core component of work, and one can only be compromised for the other for so long. The pandemic was the breaking point and employees’ voice are now being heard. With the right solutions in place to change the culture of well-being at work, employers are redesigning the future of work to maintain a healthy and productive workforce and also retain the best talents. 

“Employers are highly focused on supporting the mental health of their employees, especially as they look to retain and engage talent,” said Young. “Those that prioritize employee mental health and increase access to virtual and digital solutions will be uniquely positioned to improve their ability to deliver much-needed care.”

Although much still needs to be done, many corporate leaders are well on their way to achieving these metrics. Rebranding workplace wellness starts with shifting the culture of wellness and understanding the unique needs of employees. This is the time for employers to rethink their wellness model and create a more employee-centric work culture that focuses on the growth and success of each member of the team.  

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