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Improve Employee Retention Rates by Prioritizing Mental Health and Well-being in the Workplace

In today’s world, prioritizing mental well-being has become a top priority. Employees are increasingly seeking work environments that support their mental health, while employers recognize the value of a happy and healthy workforce. This shift has led to a surge in the conversation surrounding mental health and wellness in the workplace.

According to Lyra's 2024 State of Workforce Mental Report, “work is a top social determinant of mental health.” The report also stated that “one in five U.S. workers considered leaving their company last year due to their mental health’s impact on their ability to work.”

Employers who offer mental health benefits—and create safe, supportive spaces at work—often experience higher rates of employee engagement, loyalty, and job satisfaction. This, in turn, improves business recruitment results and onboarding efforts, as well as increases employee retention rates.

What measures can organizations take to improve employee mental health?

Following are three ways you can address and improve employee mental health and well-being in the workplace and give your company an edge in the labor market.

Identify and Address Employee Burnout

Aflac’s 2023-2024 Workforces Report shows that “more than half (57%) of all American workers state that they are currently experiencing at least moderate levels of burnout.” The report further suggests that “not addressing burnout also may have downstream implications on an organization’s workforce — namely diminished job satisfaction and work-life balance among those suffering from burnout, as well as a higher likelihood of looking for a new job over the next year.”

Not surprisingly, burnout can negatively impact employee morale, reduce employee engagement, and ultimately impact your bottom line due to lower productivity and, if employees choose to leave, increased recruitment and training costs.

    What You Can Do to Reduce Employee Burnout

    It is not an employer's place to diagnose or treat mental-health issues, but you can demonstrate your commitment to your employees by offering resources without judgment, showing care and compassion, and, of course, doing all you can to create a work environment that helps to reduce stress and burnout.

    Tips to help reduce employee burnout, according to Positive Psychology, include:

    • Encourage employees to take frequent breaks throughout the workday.
    • Create distraction-free spaces where employees can work without interruption and encourage them to turn off email and other messaging services at predefined times.
    • Establish remote work boundaries that help employees clearly distinguish work life from personal or family life. For example, they should choose a time to shut off their work computer and leave it until the following workday.
    • Train managers and supervisors to lead with empathy and emotional intelligence.
    • After performing demanding work tasks (cognitive, emotional, or physical), have employees switch to simpler tasks for a designated period. Swapping between tasks of varying difficulty on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis can be an excellent way for employees to regain balance.

    Enhance Employee Benefits with Mental Health and Well-being Options

    Companies that are including mental health and wellness benefits and resources in their “standard” benefits package are gaining an edge in recruiting and retaining top talent. As a result, more employers are enhancing their benefits offerings and adopting employee retention strategies that prioritize a work-life balance and the emotional well-being of their employees.

    In their 2023 Work in America Survey, the American Psychological Association (APA) “confirmed that psychological well-being is a very high priority for workers themselves.” More specifically, “92% (of workers in the survey) said it is very (52%) or somewhat (40%) important to them to work for an organization that provides support for employee mental health.”

    “Amid all the challenges and disruption workers have experienced in recent years is a silver lining: there is considerably less stigma associated with seeking counseling and other types of professional help,” says Christina Candelora, Manager of Benefit Account Services for G&A Partners. “Most employers have learned that providing benefits that offer access to mental-health services is essential for successful employee retention and recruitment efforts.”

    What You Can Do to Prioritize Employee Mental Health and Well-being

    If you don’t currently have an organizational mental-health and wellness strategy and action plan in place, consider implementing some, or all, of the following options:

    • Primary healthcare with sufficient mental-health coverage, including telehealth services
    • Onsite mental health care and programs
    • Mental-health days and time off for therapy or other mental-health-related appointments
    • Employee assistance programs (EAPs)
    • Mental-health and empathetic-leadership training for management
    • Employee support groups and/or employee resource groups (ERGs)
    • Flexible work policies that give employees expanded options (such as hybrid or remote work) and control over how they work
    • Workplace practices that support a healthy work-life balance
    • Stress management and burnout prevention education and techniques
    • Access to mental-health apps
    • Ongoing education about your company’s mental-health awareness resources and how to access them

    Embed Employee Mental Health and Wellness in Your Company Culture

    A supportive company culture can positively impact workforce morale, job satisfaction, employee engagement, and employee retention rates. In tandem, a healthy and engaged workforce can reinforce your company culture.

    According to Mind Share Partners’ 2023 Mental Health at Work Report findings, across gender, generation, race/ethnicity, LGBTQ+ identity, and caregiver status, workers rated the following as “moderately”, “very”, or “extremely” helpful to their mental health:

    • 78% - a healthy and sustainable culture of work
    • 67% - a safe and supportive culture for mental health
    • 64% - mental health treatment
    • 60% - self-care resources for mental health

    On the flip side, the study reveals that “less than 40% of workers said their employer prioritizes mental health and saw their leaders as advocates.” And “only 49% said their company supports their mental health overall. These factors can eventually impact workplace culture and lead to increased employee turnover.

    What You Can Do to Build a Supportive Company Culture

    Recognizing and addressing the mental-health and wellness needs of your employees is a mutually beneficial effort and a sound employee retention strategy. Going a step further and making mental health and wellness a part of your company culture and core values can take employee engagement and satisfaction to a new level, helping you to increase productivity and reduce employee turnover.

    Tips to strengthen company culture:

    • Communicate clearly to employees your company’s mental-health and wellness benefits, programs, and policies, and how they can access support and resources when they need them.
    • Prioritize a work-life balance by offering flexibility to employees. This can help them better handle stressors and responsibilities in their lives.
    • Provide emotional support through one-on-one check-ins or by reducing an employee’s workload to just essential tasks when they are experiencing mental stressors or a difficult period.
    • Set aside time for fun activities that help employees bond outside the (in-person or virtual) workplace and provide opportunities for them to relax mentally and physically.
    • Create a culture of psychological safety—it opens the door to conversations with employees when you notice job performance issues or signs they are suffering from anxiety or stress.

    Showing care and compassion for a colleague who might be anxious or depressed will also demonstrate your commitment to them as a person—not just an employee. That, in turn, will allow your colleagues to place more trust and faith in you as a leader and employer.

    How G&A Can Help

    G&A Partners offers access to HR experts with years of experience helping businesses develop their employees, improve their workplace cultures, implement new HR processes and procedures, and more. Schedule a consultation with one of our trusted business advisors to learn more.