71% of workers report their employer is more concerned about their mental health now than in the past.
Results of the American Psychological Association’s 2022 Work and Wellbeing Survey reveal that since the pandemic there has been a shift in attitudes towards mental health in the workplace.
“The finding that 71% of employees feel that their employer is more concerned about employee mental health than in the past is both promising and uplifting. For far too long, employers were under-concerned about their employees’ mental health despite that fact that fulltime employees spend more of their weekday hours invested in the workplace than in any other single area of their lives,” Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist based in California told Theravive.
“To not be concerned about the mental health of one’s employees is, in my opinion, both negligent and short-sighted. When employers are interested and invested in their employees’ mental health, the greater productivity, connection, and satisfaction within the work environment. This, of course, can lead to improved well-being in all aspects of employee’s lives.”
81% of those surveyed said that how an employee supports worker mental health would be an important consideration for them when seeking future job opportunities.
When asked to select from a list of mental health support options employers could offer to their employees, the most commonly selected support was flexible working hours.
41% said they wanted this kind of mental health support from their employer.
34% said they wanted a workplace culture that was respectful of time off, whilst 33% said they wanted the ability to work remotely, and 31% said they wanted a four-day work week.
Many survey respondents reported that their employer was already offering some of the listed mental health supports. 46% reported having a flexible work schedule, while 37% said they had the option to work remotely.
However, just 28% said they worked in a workplace where time off is respected and only 14% said four day work weeks were on offer. Less than 30% said their employer offered health insurance that included coverage for mental health and substance use disorders.
Manly says that when looking at prospective employers and how they approach mental health there are a number of things to look for.
“When prospective employees are looking for a workplace that honors the importance of mental health, a few “good signs” would include insurance that offers significant mental health benefits, work from home options, paid leave for new parents, an accessible and well-managed HR department, and opportunities for employees to connect and socialize as desired,” she said.
“In general, the “ideal” work environment is one that offers employees a menu of “mental health- boosting” opportunities so that employees can choose those that are pertinent to the employee’s needs.”
31% of those surveyed said that mental health initiatives in their workplace had improved since before the COVID-19 pandemic. But this varies based on workplace.
34% of office workers and 32% of those in customer service, client service or patient service said things had improved. But just 25% of those in manual labor felt the same way. 10% of those in customer service reported that things had become worse since the pandemic.
18% of employees surveyed said their workplace was either somewhat or very toxic. This was highest among those working in manual labor (22%), followed by customer service (21%). Just 15% of those in office work described their workplace as toxic.
Manly says there are a number of steps employees can take if they feel their mental health is being impacted by their work.
“Employees who feel that their mental health is being negatively impacted at work should seek HR support. If HR support is not an option, it’s important to reach out for support and guidance from a licensed psychotherapist or trusted mentor. Work issues often worsen if not addressed, so it’s important to be proactive to obtain the support you need and deserve.”