“We’re seeing this shared interest [in employee mental health benefits],” Cynthia Castro Sweet, senior director of clinical research at Modern Health, said at a recent panel discussion held by the mental health and wellness app on Sept. 1st. “But [there is a] slightly different ranking in priorities between leaders and employees.”
In the wake of the pandemic, not only is the number of employees expected to leave their current position high, but employers’ attitudes are worsening the optics. Eighty percent of C-suite leaders and nearly three-quarters of HR leaders say employees today expect too much mental health support from their employers, research shows. And while most leaders acknowledge the importance of providing mental health support, 60% plan to revert back to the mental health strategy used pre-pandemic.
“Your managers are your frontline,” Dr. Myra Altman, vice president of clinical care at Modern Health, said at the event. “So have a lot of conversations with them, understand what the pain points are and then equip them really well to have those conversations.”
These decisions are causing alarm among managers who have not only been forced to attempt to provide mental health support to other team members — 72% say it’s made their jobs harder — but will be the most impacted should their team members jump ship.
Eighty-eight percent of C-suite executives and 86% of HR leaders think they’re doing a good job when it comes to mental health, according to research commissioned by Modern Health and conducted by Forrester Consulting. And while 87% of workers want their employers to care about their mental health, only 66% actually feel supported and 28% feel that their employer failed to support their mental health during the pandemic.
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Routine check-ins in the form of surveys and regular meetings is a great way to gauge employee engagement levels and sentiment, according to Evangeline Mendiola, director of global benefits at software company Zendesk. It simultaneously removes the burden from managers’ shoulders while also monitoring their stress levels.
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“Whether it’s helping our managers be better enabled or helping our employees feel empowered to share what they need,” she said at the discussion. “Everybody’s set up for success.” Employers are now preparing themselves for a competitive recruiting season driven by a younger demographic that expects comprehensive mental health benefits — 41% of 18 to 29 year olds anticipate it to be a legal requirement in the next five years. Companies that don’t continue to build on their existing mental health offerings and invest in the psychological safety of their office may struggle with attraction and retention.
“The organizations that get it are going to have a significant advantage in drawing those good people in and organizations that don’t are going to limit their addressable market for talent,” he said. “This is the moment in time and hopefully it’s a wake-up call.”