Mental & Emotional Well-Being in the Workplace through the Eyes of Employees

Author: Gina Scime

Employee well-being is defined as the mental, physical, emotional, and financial health of employees. In addition to life’s everyday stressors, well-being can be influenced by an organization’s culture, which can impact the level of engagement staff have with their work and workplace.

This topic has become increasingly important to both employers and their teams. Forbes reports that the U.S. market for corporate well-being will reach $27.2 billion in 2022, and businesses’ investment in well-being programs is expected to continue growing.

To what degree are employees concerned about their health and well-being at work? And what resources are available to meet their needs?

Greenwald Research partners with the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI) to ask employees these questions and find answers for employers looking to support their people and stay competitive. Our annual Workplace Wellness Survey collects data from workers throughout the nation, quantifying their current state of well-being and revealing valuable information on emerging trends in well-being benefits and programs.

The most recent survey, fielded in July 2021, covers all facets of employee well-being while also examining the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and remote work. As we approach the launch of our newest survey, take a moment to review some of the biggest takeaways from last year’s findings on mental and emotional health.

If your organization could benefit from more up-to-date insights, consider sponsoring the 2022 Workplace Wellness Survey to obtain the results of our research this September.

Mental Health & Emotional Well-Being Landscape & Offerings

Although the current state of employees’ emotional well-being and mental health is mostly positive, a substantial portion of employees are concerned about it. Six in ten employees (61%) rate their mental health and emotional well-being as excellent or very good, while another quarter (26%) rate it as good, and 13% rate it as fair or poor. Nearly half of employees (49%) are concerned about their emotional well-being and mental health.

The overwhelming majority of employees expect their employer to help address their emotional well-being and mental health needs, and there is room for improvement. Nearly half of employees (48%) describe the work-life balance at their company as excellent or very good. Another 35% describe it as good, and 17% describe it as fair or poor. Similarly, half of employees (50%) rate their employers’ efforts to help improve their mental health or emotional well-being as excellent or very good (vs. 26% good and 24% fair or poor). Three in four employees (76%) agree that their employer has a responsibility to make sure employees are mentally healthy and emotionally well. Three in four employees (74%) agree that they trust their employer to help them improve their overall well-being through quality benefits and resources, and 74% agree that they are comfortable using employer-provided tools or resources to manage their emotional and mental health.

Employees are interested in expanded mental health benefits and resources to improve mental health, but most employers are not offering these benefits and services. More than half of employees (54%) feel they understand extremely or very well the benefits or resources that their employer makes available to help with emotional well-being. Another 29% only understand these benefits or resources somewhat well, while the remaining 17% does not understand them. About a third of employers currently offer expanded mental health benefits, such as free counseling sessions with a mental health therapist or coach (31%) and tools to help improve employees’ mental health (32%). Among employers who offer these benefits or services, 46% of employees have used expanded mental health benefits and 52% have used the resources or tools. Among those who do not offer these benefits or services, 63% of employees are interested in obtaining expanded mental health benefits and 61% are interested in accessing tools and resources.

The findings make it clear that employees have high expectations of their employers when it comes to playing an active role in supporting their mental and emotional well-being in the workplace. Looking ahead, one has to wonder what added benefits and services employers will need to offer or continue offering to attract and retain top talent in the future.

The Pandemic & Remote Work’s Impact on Employee Well-Being

The COVID-19 pandemic increased the importance of mental health and well-being programs for most employees and some employers. Nearly half of employees (49%) feel that mental health and well-being programs are more important for employers to offer now, given the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact. Another 40% feel that these programs have the same level of importance since COVID, while only 4% feel they are less important. However, since the start of the pandemic, only 31% of employees feel that their employers’ efforts to help manage their overall well-being have increased, while the majority (60%) feel efforts have stayed the same. Half of employees (51%) rate their employers’ communications regarding mental health and work-life balance as excellent or very good (vs. 27% good and 22% fair or poor).

Employees’ abilities to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic have had a positive impact on well-being. About half of companies (49%) currently offer their employees the ability to work from home or telework. A third of employees (34%) work from home or telework all the time, while 25% work remotely some of the time, and 41% do not work remotely. Seven in ten employees (69%) report that working from home or teleworking has had a positive impact on their mental health and emotional well-being (vs. 25% no change and 6% negative). Similarly, 68% report that working from home or teleworking has had a positive impact on their workplace well-being (vs. 25% no change and 7% negative). Since the start of the pandemic, the majority (56%) of staff rate their employers’ communications about new, return-to-work, back-to-office, or telework policies and procedures as excellent or very good (vs. 25% good and 19% fair or poor).

The importance of mental and emotional well-being has increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but some employers have been slow to adopt programs and benefits to address this growing concern. Will some of the pandemic-related changes in the workplace become permanent? And will employers take team health and well-being into consideration when updating their work policies?

What’s Next in Workplace Well-Being

Progress has been made on employee well-being offerings in the workplace, but we still have a long way to go in this area to meet employee demand. So, what does the future hold? The next Workplace Wellness Survey will be conducted by Greenwald and EBRI in mid-July with results available in September. This year’s research will include an oversampling of LGBTQ employees for additional analysis.

Contact us to join other high-performing businesses in sponsoring this critical study benefitting both employers and their teams.

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