According to the American Institute of Stress, approximately 80% of the workers find their jobs stressful while nearly 40% say they need help to overcome the stress at work. In the light of these stats, it is evident that workplace stress is an integral part of mental well-being trends.
With the unstable economy and deprecating financial conditions, work-related stress is rising now more than ever. Covid-19 breakout has caused shifts in employees’ roles, responsibilities and expectations on an organizational level. Employees are now expected to handle the increased workload, meet strict deadlines, and bear the financial breakdown amidst the lockdown situations. And this has increased distress among them.
It simply means that taking your employee’s mental health seriously is crucial. That’s because untreated stress can lead to decreased employee productivity and word efficiency, and several mental health problems.
‘’Mental health and well-being are just as, if not more important than physical well-being when it comes to thriving in the future world of work.”
Let’s have a detailed look into mental well-being trends for the future of work.
What is Mental Wellbeing at work?
Mental well-being at work is a broad term; it covers all aspects of work life. Whether it’s the quality of the work environment or workspace, employees’ feelings about their work, the overall vibe of the workplace, and other such factors.
The focus of mental health well-being at the workplace is simply to ensure that the employees feel safe, secure, and mentally satisfied. A lot of research has been done on mental health well-being at work and there is one thing we can be sure about:
‘’Workers’ well-being is a key factor in determining an organization’s long-term effectiveness. Many studies show a direct link between productivity levels and the general health and well-being of the workforce.’’
Why is Mental Wellbeing at Work Important?
Mental health at the workplace can have a profound effect on workers’ performance and vice versa.
A study shows that 1 in 6.8 or 14.7% of people suffer from mental health problems in the workplace. Another report reveals that stress is the root cause for more than one million workers to miss work every day.
The good news is that companies have now started taking mental wellbeing seriously. The progressive organizations were already on the right track by recognizing the importance of mindfulness. Thanks to the pandemic, even other companies have started paying attention to the all-important mental wellbeing at work.
Let’s face it, depressed or stressed employees are bad news for any business. According to a report by the American Institute of Stress, absenteeism because of depression costs $51 billion to businesses while treatment costs around $26 billion.
If there is no mental health support for employees at work, problems such as bullying, conflicts, drug use, depression, and mental health disorders will rise. Businesses can significantly benefit from a mental wellbeing policy to ensure increased employee satisfaction, increased productivity, low absenteeism, improved commitment, and enhanced performance.
All these issues can be resolved quickly and a lot of capital can be saved if employers simply start paying more attention to the mental wellbeing of employees. Companies should start working on internal communication, a growth mindset, and should support employees in distress.
Most organizations usually have target-centric programs that address alcohol or drug abuse problems as part of legislative measures. That is all well and good. But the importance of having an effective mental health policy at work cannot be denied.
Where the Gap in Mental Health Policy Lies?
As people start returning to work, most employees still struggle to get a lid on their mental health problems. Mckinsey’s recent publication revealed that employers need to take major steps to provide effective mental health support to their workforce.
The report found out several points of discord between employers and employees when it comes to workplace mental health. The disagreement usually comes across three areas: workplace stigma, employer’s support level for mental health, and workers’ access to mental illness or substance abuse programs.
Accessing mental healthcare has been a major challenge for employers. These challenges include lack of awareness about the service provided, insufficient insurance coverage, trouble finding the providers and long wait times for appointments.
In the report, 80% of employers showed concern about employee’s mental health. At this time, employers need to prioritize the mental health of their workforce by hiring mental health experts at an organizational level and expanding mental health benefits, policies and programs for employees.
How Covid-19 Has Shifted the Global Workplace Mental Wellbeing Trends?
After the pandemic, the talk about mental health policies picked up the pace because of the additional stress related to it. According to research, jobless individuals or lower-income households show a higher mental illness rate than those with no job loss or income loss during the pandemic (53.4% vs 31.8%).
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, some 42 percent of employees globally have reported a decline in mental wellbeing.
Staying home was and still is the new normal for many people. Loneliness, depression, and anxiety of job loss became the new fear for people and the global pandemic didn’t help. Some people tried to cope with their distress by turning towards substance abuse or unhealthy food consumption.
Thus, we saw a rise in the suicide rate, domestic abuse, addiction, mental health problem, and food disorders.
With physical therapy services unavailable, the world had to switch to teletherapy quickly. And so began the new era of mental wellbeing and it changed the way we see mental health.
With the Covid-19 outbreak, we saw the following trends in the workplace mental wellbeing industry:
1. Digital Wellness Programs
Millennials were always self-aware about their health and the use of self-care apps has been on the rise since 2018. After the pandemic, self-care and health apps saw a 40% surge in usage, reaching an all-time high of over 200 billion hours in April 2020.
Digital wellness programs are definitely going to be a top trend in the workplace even after the pandemic is over. With that being said, digital healthcare for mental wellbeing should be easily accessible for every employee.
Previously, companies have been playing with the idea of virtual doctor appointments but with the ongoing pandemic, the idea has rapidly gained popularity. Throw in the mix of digital wellness and mental health apps, and you can effectively use technology to help relieve the pressure that has been there for quite some time now on both employers and employees.
One such example is Yappier that features an AI assistant to provide support for depression. It asks you questions and encourages you to think about your thoughts and express yourself. In the end, it summarizes the conversation by providing helpful insights
Many organizations are already utilizing digital wellness solutions. Marriott has a powerful integrated platform that is focused on employee well-being. Uipath, a mid-size organization, also focuses on the use of meditation apps and physical wellbeing apps to support the wellness of their employees.
Some of the most popular solutions for mindfulness and improved mental health at the workplace include:
Breathwork app solutions- Breathwork app and coaching solutions are becoming increasingly popular to help employees fight stress, burnouts and other workplace challenges. Breathwork includes a range of breathing activities to improve the oxygen supply and state of calmness.
Meditation app solutions- Apps like Headspace and Calm have been pretty helpful in managing workplace stress. Such apps have guided meditation sessions to help employees stay calm and relaxed, thus promoting a stress-free working environment.
Teletherapy- Teletherapy solutions like Ginger can be cost-effective due to text-based behavioral health coaching, psychiatric sessions, video therapy, and self-guided coaching solutions. Companies like Dominos and Accolade are already using these solutions.
2. Personalized Digital Wellness Programs
Personalized wellness is the center point of discussion when it comes to employee well-being. Even before Covid 19, there was talk among employers about personalized wellness. And after the pandemic and remote working routine, the need for personalized wellness witnessed a boost.
According to an SHRM survey, 79% of employers have a personalized Employees Assistance Program (EPA) that covers mental health support and other benefits for employees.
When we talk about personalized digital wellness, we are focusing on individualized health coaching, on-demand fitness classes, and self-care subscription services. It allows employers to choose from single app solutions to full-fledged wellness platforms. For instance, the Power Nap App is an app solution that lets employees enjoy 30 minutes of power naps with calming and pleasant sounds. Elevate can give personalized brain training via gaming.
Likewise, Derose Meditation is a fusion of individualized breathwork, movement and meditation. It features pre-designed wellness programs and interactive real-time support for employees’ wellbeing. It has world-class wellness teachers and offers private consulting to meet individual needs.
We are also seeing new HR roles introduced, such as the director of well-being who is responsible for strategic management of employees’ emotional, mental, physical, and social well-being. In the future, more and more companies will be hiring wellbeing directors and managers as employers start to realize the importance of workplace mental wellness.
3. Focus on Stress Management
Stress management is one of the top workplace wellness trends amidst the global pandemic. With the noticeable rise in work-related stress among employees, more than 81% of companies are ready to invest in stress management and resilience.
Organizations can start by offering employees stress management training. LinkedIn already took the lead on it by creating new courses on dealing with grief and enhanced resilience. Organizations can also offer personalized resilience training as well as take help from guided meditation platforms such as DeRose Meditation. A digital helpdesk for stressed employees can be effective.
Top Workplace Mental Wellbeing Trends to Look Out for in 2022
Workplace Stress Prevention is Going to be the Priority
Prevention is better than cure and this is specifically true when it comes to workplace wellness. A report by the American Institute of Stress confirms that stress caused by work is responsible for 120,000 deaths and costs $190 billion for treatments per year.
It means that every organization should take preventive measures to save billions of dollars in healthcare costs later. Stress prevention can effectively prevent employees from feeling mentally and physically lethargic in the first place.
If the stress prevention measures are effectively implemented, it can positively boost employees’ mental, physical, and financial well-being. So instead of providing their staff with masseuse appointments, managers should try to reduce the working hours and workload of the employees. That way, employees won’t experience side effects of stress such as backaches, headaches, dizziness, and muscle tension.
Employees Expect Sense of Community and Social Value
The business world is changing and companies keeping up with the latest trends are bound to thrive. Companies are having trouble with employee retention and attracting top talent. One of the reasons is that young workers value strong social connections and a sense of community in the company above the pretty image.
According to the APA survey, 65% of respondents claim that they felt lonely during the pandemic. All these factors negatively impact the employees’ mental health and their workplace performance.
That’s why many businesses are now putting in more effort to develop a stronger bond between employees and create social purposes. Having strong friendships at work can be an important factor in long-term happiness.
Moreover, in the current scenario where loneliness is the most common factor for mental health problems, having a sense of community in the workplace will positively impact the help employees’ mental wellbeing.
Hence, employers are paying more attention to engaging remote workers in social experiences. HP has set an example by creating an Employee resource Group where remote workers and parents with homeschooling children can connect and support each other.
Employers Need to Have a Strong Mental Wellbeing Policy for Employees Wellness
Prevalence of mental health was a core issue in many workplaces. HR managers were constantly trying to introduce wellness programs in their employee benefits packages to tackle their employees’ rising mental health issues.
Then came the pandemic and caused mental health problems to sky-rocket. A recent global study by Qualtrics and SAP shows that 67% of workers experienced high stress levels. With the workplaces adjusting to a new normal and embracing all the hardships that come with it, the importance of mental well-being is highlighted even more.
‘’Employers have assessed their caregiving support was not as effective as hoped, and as a result, the mental health of their workforce is suffering,” said Rachael McCann, senior director, Health and Benefits.”
Willis Towers Watson
With stakes so high, the mental health policy for workers will be a top workplace trend in the future. A report by Pacific Prime indicates that 34% of businesses have already taken steps to introduce private mental wellbeing policy and 44% have introduced professional mental health support. The report also mentions that 35% have added additional mental and physical training sessions.
Mental Wellness at Workplace Will Need a Financial Value
According to a report published by SHRM, money-related stress can lead to a 34% increase in absenteeism and undue delay. Workers in tight financial situations are bound to be absent twice as much compared to their colleagues who are doing financially well.
Thanks to the covid, the pay cuts and the rising unemployment rate are not helping much. In the end, it leaves employees feeling insecure, stressed and unproductive, thus costing the business some serious money. In the USA alone, businesses suffer $500 billion in costs because of this financial stress.
It means that now is the time for employers to get ahead of the problem and take preventive measures to stop the bleeding, such as:
- Since financial perks give a sense of security to employees, employers need to make them feel secure. You can introduce benefits such as tuition fee incentives, debt support, childcare discounts, retirement plans, etc.
- When we talk about financial wellness, we can’t ignore the importance of financial wellness tools. These tools can help with budget planning, goal accomplishment, and keeping track of spending, savings, custom financial training, etc.
- By partnering up with a financial planning company, you will be able to create a tremendous financial wellbeing plan for your employees.
- Workshops can act as a foundation for your financial wellness programs. Start by inviting guest speakers to initiate a workshop on topics like eliminating debt, planning a budget, investing basics, saving tips, etc.
The Need of an Adaptive and Safe Workplace for Employees
With the covid-19 outbreak, the workplace dynamic changed drastically. Essentially, workers had to improvise to keep themselves safe from the pandemic. For others working from home, their bedrooms, dining table, or the attic became their new office. This changed routine taught us one thing: adaptive workplace design will be the biggest wellness trend in the future.
According to research, 68% of workers worldwide do not feel safe in their workplace. This rate is even higher among remote workers, i.e., 75%. Thus to ensure the physical and mental wellbeing of their workers, employers will have to work on adaptive and safe workplace models.
Here are some tips to ensure an adaptive workplace:
- Ensure a workplace that focuses on the physical wellbeing and safety of employees.
- Allowing employees to take a break from the office and work remotely will help avoid burnout and stress while increasing productivity. You can give them a break from the office even one or two days a week while allowing them to work from home. This hybrid set up- an amalgamation of both remote and in-person work, will help increase the mental wellbeing of employees.
- Use online collaboration tools to carry out meetings. Team members can work on presenting cases through shared documents.
- Training and workshops on adapting to new changes can massively help.
- Employers must establish goals and look for effective ways to achieve them to boost workplace performance.
Compassionate Leadership is the Only Way Forward
Effective leadership is all about leading in turbulent situations rather than just when things are uncomplicated. The rising stress rate, especially after covid-19, has forced the leaders to change their leadership style. How they respond to the challenges and problems faced by their employees will eventually affect the company’s culture and performance at every level.
A report shows that 43% of Americans think their boss cares about their work-life balance. It’s high time to change that perspective. Validating team member’s fears as normal and providing them with a safe place to express their uncertainties will help them overcome stress quickly.
Showing gratitude and recognition, practical support informs of additional leave, paid leave, etc. are all examples of compassionate leadership. By practicing empathy, leaders prove that they feel concerned about their employee’s well being that’ll help overcome the crisis effectively.
These are some of the many mental wellbeing trends that you’ll see on the rise in 2022. It’s better to start now so that you might be able to retain talent and improve employees’ productivity and thus improved results.
What Should Employers Do When What Employees Need is Not Therapy?
Most of the time, if employees are distressed or burned out, employers mistake that they need therapy. However, sometimes therapy is not the only solution.
In such a situation, most employees are looking for empathy from employers and the people around them. So, you must ensure to listen to them and offer them the support they need. Encourage them to speak out and then provide them with help or stress management tools so they may feel better.
What you can do is:
- Allow them to take a short nap at the workplace. A 30-minute nap break makes a great idea.
- Have a dedicated meditation or yoga room in the office where employees could practice breathwork and mindfulness.
- Give them access to digital wellness programs and online courses to improve their mental wellbeing.
- Don’t overload them and allow them to take regular breaks during work.
- Allows them to have a week off and enjoy a vacation without any work stress
All these steps will ensure that your employees feel content and relaxed when working with your organization.
Takeaway- Expect the Mental Wellbeing to Become a Norm in 2022
Mental well-being is going to be one of the top concerns for employers in the future. Pandemic has brought to light the importance of workplace mental wellbeing, mindfulness, and individualized wellness.
Workplace mental health issues, if neglected, can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to businesses. Employers need to ensure work-life balance for their employees. Otherwise, it can lead to burnout and stress that’ll negatively impact the performance of employees.
Employers should introduce and implement effective policies and wellness programs to address the mental wellbeing of employees. They should take the necessary steps to ensure that employees get the emotional support they need. From digital wellness solutions to financial wellness, there are various solutions that can help reduce workplace stress and increase employees’ productivity and peace.
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