Diversity & Inclusion

How companies can support employee mental health and wellbeing

World Mental Health Day (1)

To celebrate the recent launch of our Plug and Play solution in collaboration with content partner Hemsley Fraser, which features award-winning DEI content, we’re going to be digging into some of today’s most pressing topics in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. We’re starting off with employee mental health and wellbeing - arguably one of the most important issues that any company will tackle.


What role should companies play in employee mental health?

59% of employees globally report having at least one mental health condition.
- McKinsey, 2022

One-third of our lives is spent working - that’s a lot of time, right? While work may not be the top priority in your employees’ lives, it can and does have a very real impact on their mental health. 

50% of employees in the UK report having experienced at least one of the three attributes of burnout (exhaustion, mental distance from their job and declined work performance), but 52% of employees don’t feel that their employer is supportive when it comes to their mental health. 61% of employees leaving their jobs in 2022 gave poor mental health as a reason, showing the sheer scale of this problem for employers and employees alike.

Work is clearly a contributing factor for many people when it comes to poor mental health, and often, companies are in a position to alleviate some of the stress, burnout and anxiety triggers for employees. That doesn’t mean that every manager needs to become a therapist overnight, but it does mean that employers and managers should step up and know how to spot employees who may be struggling with their mental health, and know how to signpost them to the right services.


Why should companies care about employee mental health?

Since the pandemic, employee mental health has become an increasingly vital consideration for companies. 

And it’s not just because it’s the right thing to do - depression and anxiety disorders result in a loss of up to $1 trillion in global productivity every year, so it directly affects business’ bottom lines when employees don’t have the mental health support they need.

Employees rating their mental health as ‘fair’ or ‘poor’ take more than 4x the number of sick days as those with ‘good’, ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ mental health.
- Gallup, 2022

Employees who are burnt out, stressed, anxious, depressed or otherwise struggling with their mental health won’t be performing at their best. They will be disengaged, distracted, disinterested and unmotivated - and most importantly, they won’t be happy.

But when the work experience is positive, it can have a powerful impact on employee mental health - for instance, it can:

  • Give employees a sense of confidence and purpose
  • Create an environment for positive relationships and inclusion
  • Provide a structured routine (which may be especially beneficial for some of your neurodiverse employees)

As part of your day-to-day operations, think about how your workplace culture supports mental health. Are there opportunities to learn and grow? Is your culture inclusive and welcoming to all demographics? Do people feel heard, understood and respected? If you don’t know the answer to any of these questions, consider setting up an anonymous survey to give you an honest, holistic view of how your employees are feeling.


What wellbeing support is available for employees?

Many managers struggle with the fine line between overstepping and appearing intrusive vs offering an appropriate level of support to employees.

Sometimes it’s as simple as an employee feeling able to talk to a manager (or someone else) at work about their struggles, whether they’re work related or personal. However, not every employee will feel comfortable doing this, in which case other self-directed support should be freely available and clearly signposted (such as on your intranet or learning platform) to ensure everyone knows what help is available.

A great first port of call is mental health and wellbeing learning content. This can cover everything from developing empathy to maintaining a healthy work-life balance to managing stress, helping employees and managers spot symptoms and better understand common mental health challenges in the workplace (all of which you’ll find on Plug and Play). Employees can access these materials on-demand, whenever they need them, without needing to have a conversation with anyone else.

Interested in getting access to DEI content? Find out more about Plug and Play!

Other options may include providing funding for popular mental health and wellbeing apps, such as Calm or Balance, which provide relaxation music, guided meditations and mental health podcasts. Alternatively, you could provide confidential, third-party counselling or talking therapies, or offer training for employees to become mental health first aiders to provide emergency support for their colleagues.


Best practice for workplace mental health resources

As is the case with all workplace content, it’s absolutely essential that people know it exists, and where they can find it. We talk a lot about getting the right content to the right people at the right time, and that is possibly never more important than when you’re providing mental health and wellbeing content. That means ramping up your internal marketing so your employees know exactly what support is available to them (without overwhelming them with too much noise - which, ironically, can add to employee burnout).

Why not consider tying your comms into what’s going on in the wider world? World Mental Health Day is on 10th October, so October could become your company’s ‘mental health month’ with webinars, workshops and regular reminders about useful content.

Otherwise, it’s all about those small, everyday actions. Remind managers to check in on their employees - not just on their work or current projects, but also to ask how they really are. Send nudges from your learning and comms platform to signpost employees to useful resources, especially at stressful times, and make sure HR is equipped with a list of external services to help employees, no matter what they need.

Ready to improve your mental health and wellbeing offering?

Our Plug and Play solution is ready and waiting for you with top-quality DEI resources from Hemsley Fraser. We’d love to show you around! Get your demo here.


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