Webinar Recap: Closing the Mental Health Gap Between Employers and Employees

June 06th, 2024

When attendees of our May Health Risk Management webinar were asked what workplace mental health meant to their organization, they commonly used words like stability, work-life balance, support, wellness, productivity, self-care, comfort, and positivity.

Mental health has become a crucial topic among employees and employers, and it means something different to everyone. Knowing this, how do employers align with employees to address mental health in the workplace effectively?

We’ll answer this question below in a summary of our May Health Risk Management webinar hosted by Captive Resources’ vice president of strategic vendor services, Maddison Bezdicek.

Mental Health in the Workplace

The workplace can be a key contributor to poor mental health due to factors such as job stress, workplace relationships, and long working hours. Consider the following statistics:

  • According to the National Institutes of Health, an estimated 20% of adults have a form of mental illness, but only 45% of those people receive care for their conditions.
  • According to the National Safety Council, employees experiencing mental distress use, on average, nearly $3,000 more in healthcare services per year than their peers (direct costs only).
  • According to the American Psychological Association, 81% of employees reported that they will be looking for workplaces that support mental health in the future.

The Gap Between Employers and Employees

According to Bezdicek, employers and employees have different opinions about workplace mental health. Consider the following results of a survey provided by Ginger.

  • 94% of employers think they’re doing enough to support mental health.
  • 69% of employees think their workplace is doing enough to support mental health.
  • 70% of employers say they are accepting of mental health challenges.
  • 35% of employees think their workplace is accepting of mental health challenges.

Mental Health Framework for Employers

So, as we can see, employers and employees aren’t on the same page when it comes to mental health in the workplace. So, what can employers do to close the gap?

Below, we’ll discuss the United States Surgeon General’s Framework for Workplace Mental Health & Well-being for employers and provide practical examples.

There are five essential components within the framework. Let’s break each of them down. 

No. 1: Protection from Harm

Components of Protection from Harm include:

  • Prioritizing workplace physical and psychological safety.
  • Enabling adequate rest.
  • Normalizing and supporting mental health.

Practical examples include:

  • Normalizing mental health conversations with leaders setting the example.
  • Assessing physical and emotional safety through focus groups or surveys.
  • Enabling rest by reviewing the scheduling norms and flexibility policies.

No. 2: Connection and Community

Components of Connection and Community include:

  • Creating cultures of inclusion and belonging.
  • Cultivating trusted relationships.
  • Fostering collaboration and teamwork.

Practical examples include:

  • Encouraging and providing a budget for company and team/department-level connection events or opportunities.
  • Training managers on how to foster belonging and connection amongst the team.
  • Auditing collaboration tools and technology.

No. 3: Work-Life Harmony

Components of Work-Life Harmony include:

  • Providing more autonomy over how work is done.
  • Making schedules as flexible and predictable as possible.
  • Increasing access to paid leave.
  • Respecting boundaries between work and non-work time.

Practical examples include:

  • Assessing true employee autonomy over how work is done.
  • Training managers/leaders to model healthy work-life harmony behaviors and boundaries.
  • Asking your consultant to help you access paid leave options.

No. 4: Opportunity for Growth 

Components of Opportunity for Growth:

  • Offering quality training, education, and mentoring.
  • Fostering clear, equitable pathways for career advancement.
  • Ensuring relevant, reciprocal feedback.

Practical examples include:

  • Assessing growth development opportunities.
  • Training managers to help employees create a career path or grow in place in their role.
  • Ensuring feedback mechanisms are encouraged, consistent, and implemented.

No. 5: Mattering at Work

Components of Mattering at Work include:

  • Providing a living wage.
  • Engaging workers in workplace decisions.
  • Building a culture of gratitude and recognition.
  • Connecting individual work with organizational mission.

Practical Examples include:

  • Assessing pay equity.
  • Determining where you can engage employees in an upcoming decision to build trust and mattering.
  • Assessing your recognition and appreciating efforts.
  • Training managers to help connect employee efforts to the greater company mission.

About the Webinar

This presentation was part of Captive Resources’ Medical Stop Loss Webinar Series — regular installments of webinars to educate medical stop loss group captive members. The thoughts and opinions expressed in these webinars are those of the presenters and do not necessarily reflect Captive Resources’ positions on any of the above topics.

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