Struggles with workplace mental health: The pandemic effect
Four in 10 employees say the pandemic has caused their emotional and mental wellbeing to decline. Feelings of loneliness have also increased, and many employees are experiencing symptoms of burnout. Caregivers and parents are especially impacted. Overall, only 39% of employees feel positively about their mental and emotional wellbeing.1
With these increased stress levels comes renewed enthusiasm for seeking out mental wellbeing resources. Seventy-five percent of employees are prioritizing reducing or managing stress. For Gen Z employees, stress management tops the list of priorities. The value of wellbeing tools, programs and information continues to climb and is even higher among those utilizing them.
According to a Business Group on Health study, 76% of employers are focusing on access to mental health as a top concern. Coupled with addressing stigma, employers have the mental health of their people in their plans for 2022.
Wellbeing and the employee experience are inextricably linked. Here are some ways employers can integrate mental wellbeing programs into their benefits offerings and support their people.
Tools that tackle burnout by building resiliency
Employee burnout is a real problem for many companies. Its impact on people and bottom lines can be drastic–But there are ways to address burnout before it gains momentum.
Many organizations use an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), a work-based benefits resource that helps employees in all areas of their lives, including personal, professional, emotional, and legal. These programs typically offer a variety of services and support, such as mental health counseling, grief assistance and more.
In the battle against burnout, building workplace resilience is key. This type of resilience refers to a company’s ability to prepare for and respond to changes and challenges; and an employee’s ability to manage stress, thrive and grow.
There are tools available to help your organization build this resiliency. The innovative digital platform, meQuilibrium, is a clinically validated solution that addresses burnout, stress, purpose, performance and wellbeing. This virtual game-changer equips employees with the skills needed to build resiliency and adapt for the future. As employees focus on these skills, they become more productive, healthier, and less likely to quit. Additionally, they’re 31% more engaged, 60% less likely to suffer burnout and four times more likely to have high job satisfaction.2
Tools like meQuilibrium use data to identify resilience strengths and weaknesses, equip organizations and individuals with resilience tools, understand workforce trends and get ahead of risks. Preparing your employees with tools that decrease burnout increases your workplace resilience.
Tools that engage employees in mental health support
Only 29% of employers believe their wellbeing programs have effectively supported their employees during the pandemic. To make things even more challenging, 82% of employers say COVID-19 will continue to have negative impacts on employee wellbeing over the next six months.3
In 2021, wellbeing strategies have focused on increasing awareness and driving engagement. Employers are searching for ways to connect their ecosystem to get their employees the right information at the right time to address their diverse needs. Instilling interactive challenges in the workplace can help create awareness and motivate employees to engage with these programs. Making these activities a regular part of work routines can help turn good health behaviors into habits and add a little fun to the day.
Alight Well is a wellbeing platform that uses health screening to help people identify risks and provide them with digital health coaching and healthy living journeys. Coupled with company-wide challenges and incentives, employees are engaged across multiple dimensions of wellbeing, resulting in better health, a better sense of connectedness, and overall improvements in engagement.
Through Alight Well, employees can get connected with other resources offered by an employer to provide additional live coaching and therapeutic support.
We’ve used Alight Well to host community-building team challenges virtually to engage employees in various emotional wellbeing activities like daily mediation, setting reading goals, boosting vocabulary or setting daily gratitude. Starting conversations with employees can remove the stigma around mental health and create personalized communications with timely information to boost engagement.
Services to support your high-stress employee groups
According to Alight’s 2021 Employee Wellbeing Mindset study, there’s been no improvement in employee stress levels since 2020. Some groups, including women, low-income workers and people of color, have experienced more stress than others this past year. And essential workers, caregivers and parents all report higher levels of stress than the average worker.
The numbers are eye-opening: 70% of HR leaders believe their peoples’ mental health is worse now than it was before 2020, and 88% are concerned that untreated mental health conditions could lead to issues with productivity or engagement at work, according to research by virtual care provider Vida Health.
Investing in programs that connect people with mental health coaches trained in cognitive-behavioral principles and motivational interviewing helps employees take small steps to increase their resiliency. These coaches and therapists help people find techniques and coping mechanisms that work for them to reduce their symptoms, ultimately working to offset long-term fatigue.
Employees who are also caregivers should require a focused approach. We know at least 20% of adults are caregiving for a parent, and half of caregivers report troubles balancing work and caregiving.4 With support from resources like Cariloop, which helps working caregivers and their families plan for and manage the care of loved ones, companies can help these employees reduce stress and feel more confident about the care they’re providing.
Integrate workplace mental health programs with benefits offerings
In 2021, 43% of employees or dependents sought mental health support through counseling or other related services — up from 28% in 2018. Many employees are acting on their own to address their mental and emotional health during the pandemic, through activities like meditation, exercise or hobbies. Only about 30% of employees say they’ve taken no action, some of whom mention they don’t have the time due to work or family responsibilities.5
In addition to the Alight Well solution, Alight partners with trusted benefits providers like MeQulibrium, VidaHealth, Cariloop and Kashable to help employers seamlessly extend the breadth of benefits to provide a truly holistic offering that includes mental health and financial wellness support.
There has never been a more relevant time to create a better and healthier experience for your people by equipping them with the mental health support and resources they’re looking for. Your people, and your entire organization, will be better for it.