A new survey says that 60% of US workers are worried about their mental and psychological health.
According to the survey by The Conference Board, there is a positive side to that. Nearly 80 percent of respondents felt that their supervisors cared.
Yet only 62% felt that they felt comfortable talking about wellbeing challenges at work. And 18% said they do not feel comfortable discussing hardships at work. They said they feared negative consequences.
62% of Employees Worried About Mental Health
A majority of workers – those 62% – feel comfortable talking about wellbeing challenges at work. That’s good. But how can supervisors reach the employees who don’t?
The strongest indicator may simply be through personal connection, said Amy Lui Abel, PhD, VP Human Capital, The Conference Board.
“Direct managers and supervisors should regularly check-in with their teams and simply ask: “How are you doing? How is the family? Are there things preventing you from focusing on your work? What is going on?” Abel advised. “These check-ins can happen on an organizational level as well, with quick “pulse check” surveys (anonymous or not) asking these same basic questions about wellbeing.”
What Can Employers Do to Alleviate Mental Stress Felt by Employees?
Employers can use several techniques to help employees adjust to mental stress, Abel said.
“There are several ways to help alleviate employee mental health stresses, including increasing flexibility, providing childcare accommodations or stipends, and clearly communicating available benefits and resources that support mental health,” Abel said. “Employers can consider offering yoga and mindfulness sessions during the workday, encouraging discussion with peer groups and managers, and promoting the use of Employee Assistance Programs and other support groups/services.”
Age Factors Revealed in the Conference Board Survey
Stress and Burnout – Millennials are most concerned about mental and psychological wellbeing. Since they are just starting out in their careers, they are also more concerned about professional and financial wellbeing.
Opportunities to Connect with Others – GenXers are more concerned about social wellness and belonging.
Fear of Getting Sick – Baby Boomers are more concerned about physical wellbeing, compared to their generational counterparts.
Gender Factors as Reported by Respondents
Women were only slightly more concerned about physical, professional, and financial wellbeing, compared to male respondents.
Men were only slightly more concerned about social wellbeing, compared to female respondents.
By 8%, women increased their use of social wellness activities, such as celebrations, retreats and virtual coffee hours. Men’s use of such activities decreased by 4%.
What about Employee Assistance Programs?
Overall, use of mental health resources only dropped about 4% during the pandemic, according to the survey.
Millenials increased usage of such programs (8%). GenXers and Baby Boomers decreased their use of such programs by 5% and 4%.
“With the wellbeing of so many workers under immense strain, it’s surprising that the use of many programs to support wellness decreased,” said Rebecca Ray, PhD, Executive Vice President, Human Capital at The Conference Board. “These findings speak to the need for better communication from leaders about the availability of resources, and a rethinking of the ways in which companies offer them.”
Use of Online Resources
Overall, usage of online tools increased 6 percent as workers socially distanced, according to the survey.
Millennials increased use of online resources by 19 percent. GenXers and Baby Boomers increased their use on online tools by 4% and 5%.
What About Health?
Most respondents to the survey said they maintained a health regimen—but CEOs and women struggled.
About 20% of employees said they’d been unable to maintain a regular health routine, such as annual physicals, dental exams and preventative tests. CEOs fared no better, with 33% reporting they were unable to keep up with regular health routines.
“Today more than ever, leaders need to understand their teams’ struggles so they can take steps to actively support their wellbeing, engagement, and productivity,” Abel said. “By managing with empathy, leaders can build trust and better understand how to support their employees’ wellbeing.”