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Date posted: 31st August 2022

31st August 2022

Why Company Leaders Need To Prioritize Mental Health

Why Company Leaders Need To Prioritize Mental Health

It’s no secret that mental health concerns among employees have proliferated since the start of the pandemic.

In fact, a recent Mercer study revealed that as many as 81% of employees are now struggling with their mental health, and 68% of those report that poor wellbeing impacts their performance daily.

When the wellbeing of an individual is compromised, the results can be profound, with:

  • Increased sickness and absenteeism
  • Lower retention rates
  • Reduced performance and productivity.

In ‘Mental Health Has Become a Business Imperative‘, Josh Bersin writes:

‘There’s a domino effect on remaining teams, too, as these employees are overstretched and unsettled and face high levels of stress in order to meet patient needs with fewer people.’

So, how do organizations ensure success and longevity? By making mental health a business imperative.

‘From our regular discussions with HR leaders around the world,’ Bersin says, ‘it’s clear that the organizations outperforming their peers are those that have cultivated a strong sense of empathy and flexibility, developed new skills to address workforce needs, and extended holistic mental health support to employees.’

 

To learn how to make mental health an imperative within your organization, check out the full article by Josh Bersin in MIT Sloan Management Review, here:

The CEO of Starbucks has stated publicly that he considers the mental and emotional health of the company’s workers to be its biggest challenge coming out of the pandemic. Morgan Stanley, which employs many people who have advanced degrees and are exceptionally high performers, now has a chief medical officer dedicated to maintaining and improving mental health across the organization.

Within human resources departments, we’re seeing a growing trend of companies promoting new roles focused on measuring and improving mental health at work.

Our research (a study of over 1,000 companies) examined which business and people practices have the most impact on business outcomes, people outcomes, and innovation. This analysis points to the importance of transitioning from the traditional focus on employee benefits to one that encompasses job and work design, management, rewards practices, a demonstrated commitment to psychological safety and fairness, and a culture of employee listening.

This research shows that “healthy” organizations outperform their peers in a range of ways. Rates of absenteeism are almost 11 times more likely to be lower, and these employers are more than three times more likely to retain people. Companies that care about staff well-being are at least twice as likely to delight customers, to be identified as a “great place to work,” and to exceed financial targets. These companies also adapt more readily to change and are more effective at innovating.

From HR Issue to Management Priority

We’ve found that within organizations, the higher up that mental health is prioritized, the bigger the impact of any interventions. Until recently, mental health was seen as a benefits problem, relegated to the realm of HR. Companies offered employee assistance programs, for instance, or insurance-provided advice networks to help staffers find a counselor. These programs, while widely available, were rarely used in practice, due to employees’ worries about the stigma of asking for help. Plus, benefits managers were continuously concerned about the programs’ cost.

Now, this equation has changed completely. Mental health is scaling the management agenda, and money is being made available to invest in identifying and addressing issues with positive, proactive, and increasingly creative solutions.

Pioneering companies are creating programs for sabbaticals, time off, child care benefits, and far more flexible work arrangements. Tools like real-time pay systems, regular feedback sessions, the four-day workweek, and far more discussions with leadership are all efforts to make work more humane and healthier for workers. Simple policies like allowing dogs in the office can cost so little yet matter so much to employees.

In many cases, technology platforms and targeted apps are providing some of the answers — from meditation apps geared toward mindfulness to tools that improve the employee experience by helping to alleviate administrative strain. But for maximum and lasting impact on mental health, change needs to happen within the context of culture, where conversations about mental health are encouraged and normalized.

Any good, proactive mental health initiative starts with listening. Most companies, and most business leaders, won’t know how much stress there is in the organization unless employees tell them. Sentiment surveys, open town hall meetings, and exit interviews are all crucial inputs for gathering facts and bringing attention to the issues employees are facing.

The real shift here is that many companies are now removing the stigma attached to talking about matters of mental health. People can say, “I’m not feeling well today,” or “I’m tired,” or “I’m having troubles at home”; that type of feedback is critical.

Monitoring in this way will help senior managers pinpoint any particular hot spots in the business for further investigation.

 

Read the full article from, here.

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And for more articles on Wellbeing, Culture, and Experience & Engagement be sure to visit the Inspiring Workplaces website.

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