The pandemic saw the way we approach work radically change. Whether it was working from home or adjusting to video calls, there was plenty for businesses to adapt to.
Notably, many employees saw increased investment in the workplace mental health support they received, but this looks set to change.
Modern Health, a leading workplace mental health platform, has attempted to get an understanding of the attitudes companies had towards mental health support as people return to office work.
To do this, they commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct an online survey of 1,215 employees (702 non-manager employees and 513 managers) and 500 leaders (250 C-level executives and 250 human resources decision-makers) in the US about their impressions of mental health benefits in the workplace.
The findings found a disparity between 87% of employees that wanted their employers to continue to care about their mental health, and the 80% of C-suite leaders and nearly three-quarters of HR leaders that say employees today expect too much mental health support.
The future of mental health support
Despite, 67% of bosses noting improvement in productivity because of mental wellbeing investments, this does not appear to be a long-term strategy.
In fact, 60% of leaders plan to revert back to their pre-pandemic mental health strategy, which would be a significant divestment for many.
Speaking about the findings, Myra Altman, vice president of clinical strategy and research at Modern Health said: “The thing we found concerning is that a lot of C-suite executives were considering rolling back mental health benefits.
“Some executives are thinking that it’s a short-term trend, that the pandemic will end and people’s mental health [needs] will go back to baseline.”
Contrary to the perception of leaders, Modern Health founder and CEO Alyson Watson noted that: “Even before the pandemic, society was fighting an epidemic of loneliness as mental health issues, depression rates, and suicide rates skyrocketed.
“The pandemic was a tipping point, exacerbated by other issues like ongoing racial injustice and the political environment.
“These challenges have created an opportunity for employers to pave the way to a future that allows employees to bring their whole selves to work and provide the support that empowers employees with the resilience needed to thrive. ”
There is also the issue of a need for ongoing support post-pandemic, as it is clear that remote working is not going anywhere since hybrid working and new flexible methods of working are being considered.
Support and staff retention
A significant factor in whether or not leaders begin removing mental health support for staff will be employee retention.
Amidst the “Great Resignation” which has seen many industries struggle to retain staff as they look for better benefits and better work-life balance, dialing back wellbeing schemes could be damaging for a company’s talent acquisition and retention.
As a result, many companies have engaged in communication and engagement software for their employees. The likes of Peakon have given employers the opportunity to see the data behind employees as well as engage them and spot problems by using benchmarks.
Also, with the heightened focus on employee engagement and the risk of a talent exodus, employers may need to think again about reducing their prioritization of mental health at work.
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