Why Chief Human Resources Officers Are Investing in Mental Health and Wellness

Ben Renner | | Employee Benefits Communication

stress in the workplace is a health concernAs we’ve known for a while now, mental health is an important component of overall employee wellness. Mental health impacts productivity and morale, which ultimately impact the company’s bottom line. Businesses across industries are investing in initiatives designed to maintain or improve employees' mental health. The burden of establishing these programs in cost-effective ways often falls on the chief human resources officers (CHROs).

What Are Chief Human Resources Officers Concerned About Most?

Mental health is a rising concern in the workplace as there’s growing empirical evidence showing how mental issues like anxiety and stress negatively affect employee satisfaction and productivity. It logically follows that when employees feel supported and get the help they need with stressful situations, they perform at a higher level.

chief human resource officers focus on mental health and wellnessRecent research demonstrates that providing benefits specifically aimed at improving mental health is a growing trend, and it’s not surprising. A recent International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) report showed a 26% increase in organizations offering mental health coverage as a part of their health benefits packages. 90% of companies in the study now offer some form of mental health coverage.

The workplace isn’t the only place mental health issues have been garnering attention, but that increased awareness is putting new pressures on CHROs to address it in the workplace. It’s a concern the growing pool of millennial employees share, which is also applying pressure. You could look at it as CHROs feeling the stress about stress. I guess stress really is taking its toll on employees everywhere.

How Stress Saps Potential

Research into the stress levels of American workers routinely reveals grim numbers and poor portrayals of company managers and leaders. It shows millions of American workers suffer from lost productivity and declining health as a result of how stressful our lives have become.

mental health and wellness is a concern for chief human resources officersFrom a practical standpoint, managers know that, when workers are overly stressed about their performance at work, performance dips. Things that aren't directly connected to daily work tasks cause stress, too. Financial stress and issues with healthcare, even among workers covered by your company’s benefits plans, is common. CHROs need to ensure all employees have what they need to perform at their top level, both for the employee’s sake and for the company’s bottom line.

To respond to rising stress, employers are investing more in employee assistance programs (EAPs), which provide resources to handle problems outside of work. Officially, EAPs assist with personal and work-related problems that fall outside the purview of other HR programs and benefits. These problems affect worker performance and can contribute to internal conflict in the office.

CHROs are realizing how important EAPs are and just how many problems high stress can cause. The focus on mental health and wellness is justified. Of course, after electing to offer an EAP, communicating those offerings to the workforce becomes the next challenge.

Remove the Stress and Stigma with Program Communications

As with other programs and initiatives, announcing and communicating them to employees is the first step to people using them. All the decisions worker have to make during open enrollment can be overwhelming. In other words, it becomes one more thing for them to stress over. Additionally, while awareness is growing, there remains a stigma to open discussions of mental health conditions. Workers may not be comfortable raising questions about aspects of EAPs and other programs. Workers miss information when EAPs get only a brief mention in enrollment materials.

A concerted informational campaign highlights offerings and, depending on the method, can provide direct access to associated resources. For instance, our digital postcard campaigns can include a video about the program alongside links to provider sites, FAQs, internal contact information and more.

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