When you spend at least a third of your life at work, it’s no surprise that your work environment can impact your wellbeing. But not all health issues are treated equally, or even supported, in the workplace.
Take mental health, which has faced a long-standing stigma, both at work and in our private lives. Yet, it’s an integral part of our wellbeing.
In March 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic took a broad impact on peoples’ work and personal lives, we surveyed over 2,000 American workers across 20 different industries to understand what mental wellbeing looks like in today’s workplaces, from how often it’s talked about between peers to how employers offer support.
The good news is that the data shows people are talking about mental health—a critical first step. In our survey, smaller businesses fared better in our results, often scoring low on the stigma scale and high on the education scale.
While we found that workplace stigma seems to be easing up among younger generations, employers are still falling short of providing the necessary resources and support to combat stress and burnout and support employees’ overall wellbeing.
Here’s the proof: nearly 70% of those surveyed said they’ve experienced burnout, an occupational phenomenon resulting from chronic unmanaged workplace stress, yet less than 40% said their employer provides the resources to address it.
And while a majority of those we surveyed said they were satisfied with the mental health coverage provided by their employer’s health plan, more than half said they’ve never gotten mental health information from their employer.
Something’s not adding up.
This gap in the data is telling us that simply providing mental health coverage isn’t enough—employers need to prioritize year-round education and resources to support employees’ overall wellbeing.
Here’s what else we uncovered:
- 60% of workers have taken a day off solely because of stress.
- 51% of workers experience stress on a weekly basis while nearly a third experience it daily.
- 42% of workers said that their mental health inhibits their job performance.
- The average salary range for the most stressed workers is $40k or less.
- The most stressed industries are restaurant workers, retail workers and skilled laborers.
When you look at the data, it’s probable that at least part of the stress and burnout problem is related to finances and workload. According to the American Institute of Stress, workload, people issues, work-life balance and job security are leading causes of workplace stress.
Establishing true change won’t be as simple as implementing a single action across all industries. Improved mental health resources will require an approach that’s tailored to employees both at work and in their personal lives, whether that’s regular communication, more informed HR teams or another tactic designed to meet employees where they’re at mentally and physically.
Even before COVID-19 turned our routines upside down, the lines between “work time” and “home time” were blurred by the daily stressors we experience. Now more than ever, it’s critical for employers to step it up and support the mental wellbeing of their employees.
Employers have a responsibility to uphold the wellbeing of their employees, from physical to mental, with the right resources, access to care and internal support. Providing health benefits shouldn’t start and end at open enrollment.