How to build an environment that develops resilient employees and supports their overall wellbeing.

I believe most people have a clear understanding of why mental health is so important. Now – does that mean they prioritize it? Absolutely not! And this is something that needs to change.

According to a recent study, nearly half of all American workers say that their job is negatively impacting their health. 

Why You Have A Responsibility

There are plenty of benefits to investing in the mental health of your employees – the most important being they are mentally well – and you might be thinking that isn’t your responsibility but this is the wrong attitude to take. The majority of Americans spend more time at work than they do at home. They often sacrifice time with their family, holidays, weekends and more recently their homes, to work for you. That means you are required, on a level that is more involved than providing bad health insurance, to invest in the quality of life and overall well being of your employees.

How to Invest in the Mental Health of Your People

By promoting resilience and supporting positive change, you can create a work environment that is enjoyable and productive for everyone. People in this type of environment are often more engaged and happier overall.

One way to invest in the mental health of your employees is to provide leadership development opportunities. By teaching your employees how to lead effectively, you can help them build resilience and navigate times of change. In addition, leadership development can also help your employees feel more engaged and motivated in their work. Checking in on things like this, at the very least, allows you to establish a baseline with your employees so you have a clear understanding of how they are doing and can even benchmark their success within your organization.

Another way to promote mental health in the workplace is to support employees during times of change. Whether it’s a new project or a change in leadership, or something as massive as The Great Resignation, transition periods can be challenging for everyone.

Setting the Tone

We often look to heavy hitters within our industry to set a baseline or tone for what to do next. When Google started adding nap and wellness spaces to their offices, everyone took notice and tried to emulate at their own scale.

The more that time goes on, the more we are seeing a growing recognition of the importance of mental health in the workplace. A study by the World Health Organization found that nearly one in four people will experience a mental health disorder at some point in their lives. Depressive disorders are the second leading cause of disability worldwide, and anxiety disorders are ranked sixth. Given the significant toll that mental illness can take on both individuals and organizations, it is not surprising that more and more companies are investing in the mental health of their employees.

Benefits Beyond Insurance

Speaking of Google, The tech giant offers its employees a number of Mental Health Benefits, including access to counseling and therapy services, support groups, and stress-reduction programs. Companies such as Google, Apple, and Cisco Systems offer employees on-site counseling and mental health services as part of their benefits package. In 2015, three out of four companies with more than 500 workers offered some type of mental health benefit, according to a survey by the National Business Group on Health.

Google’s anxiety and stress management program includes on-site support from mental health professionals, workshops, and an online self-assessment tool. Apple offers 24/7 access to counselors through its Employee Assistance Program. Cisco Systems’ global program includes an employee assistance hotline, face-to-face counseling, online resources, and on-site support groups.

Organizations such as these have realized that this is a minimal investment compared to the flipside, which is unwell employees, turnover, poor culture, and so on.

So, for National Employee Benefit Day, a day to celebrate the importance of investing in the health and well-being of our employees, I wanted to open up a discussion around this important topic. For far too long, the mental, emotional and physical health of our workforce has been overlooked. This neglect has led to increased rates of absenteeism, presenteeism and turnover, and has had a negative impact on both the bottom line and the morale of our organizations. It’s time for that to change.

Today, more than ever, we need to invest in the resilience of our people. We need leaders who are committed to creating a culture of wellness, and who are willing to champion change. We need employees who are engaged in their own wellness journey, and who are willing to support their colleagues along the way as well.