As businesses continue to recover from the pandemic, we are putting a special focus on mental health, especially as employees begin returning to the office with increasingly hybrid work schedules.
Employers are shifting their focus to providing more benefits, bonuses and scholarships to support the health of their employees, but many executives are wondering how mental health care is provided in the work environment. You’re wondering if it should be, how you can best support your team, and what you can do to judge your employees. real needs.
These were among the topics discussed this morning at the Crain’s Grand Rapids Business Power Breakfast event on workplace mental health. The event, moderated by Employers Association President Jason Leap, was attended by regional leaders in human resources and mental health, including:
- Dr. Scott Halstead, vice president of outpatient and recovery services at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, Inc.;
- Cheryl Cucci, senior consultant at consulting firm Lehman.
- Kristin Spikerman, clinical director of Network 180, Kent County’s community mental health agency.and
- Dr. Kiran Taylor, Chief Medical Officer, Hope Network;
Get all the information you need about West Michigan businesses. Sign up for our free newsletter now.
During the pandemic and beyond, the number of employees self-reporting mental health issues has skyrocketed, contributing to workplace dissatisfaction and decreased productivity.
The 2020 Kent County Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) found that 47% of residents believe their mental health has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the downsides for employers during the recovery from the pandemic is a lack of employee engagement, Cucci said.
“Engagement first plummeted in mid-2020 during COVID-19 and has continued to decline ever since,” Cucci said. “We were very concerned about this from the beginning of 2023 because we were very hopeful that there would certainly be a little bit of a rebound (but) it wasn’t that big.”
However, one of the silver linings from the pandemic has been the increased focus on mental health, which has resulted in an increased awareness of resources in our communities, health care settings, and workplaces.
“If we had held this conference 10 years ago, I wonder if we would have had as many participants as we did,” Halstead said. “I think this is a reflection of change. That we’re here today to have this discussion, that people can say, ‘I was talking to a therapist the other day,’ and that people can say, ‘Oh, The fact that I no longer think, “Oh, I need a therapist,” I think that’s changed over the past five years. It doesn’t mean that the bias is gone, but it’s a lot better than it was before. ”
Increasing awareness of mental health in the workplace has given rise to many new services and programs to help re-engage employees and show employers care about the health of their teams. Panelists said many employers are focusing on the mental health of their employees, including providing incentives for relaxation spaces and wellness days.
While these services can give businesses a great start, Cucci said employers need to think holistically to build resilient teams and take care of their employees’ mental health. .
“If you’re a leader, an HR professional, or even a colleague, and you’re serious about impacting the mental health of your employees, take a look at your organizational culture,” she said. “Let’s take a look at what engagement is like within your organization. What is your culture like?”
According to a 2023 study by the Society for Human Resource Management, 60% of employees surveyed around the world said their job has the greatest impact on their mental health. In the same survey, one in three employees said their boss was unaware of the impact they had on the mental health of their team, and 70% said their company did not provide mental health support. I answered that I would like to see further strengthening of the system.
Cook, who works directly with organizations to research and identify areas of weakness in workplace culture, says that while most business leaders feel they have good control over their weaknesses, the real answer is He added that it was amazing every time.
“Programs are really great if you want to make a difference, but they need to be combined with a close look at how you lead your organization and how your bosses and managers interact with their teams. ,” she said.
Mr Taylor said part of the effort to strengthen mental health in the workplace starts with recognizing the actual needs of employees and adjusting services accordingly. For example, childcare can contribute to employee stress and negatively impact productivity.
“If our employees are thinking about where their kids are at work, they can’t focus 100% on the work they’re trying to do,” Taylor said. “We encourage people to think broadly when thinking about benefits and workplace mental health benefits.”
At the same time, companies offer benefits such as employee assistance programs (EAPs) that are not well communicated. As employees increasingly adjust their job searches to suit their mental health needs, companies are looking for employers who offer EAPs and who make the mental health of their teams a priority, and companies are adapting their offers. Benefit from broadcasting to current and prospective employees.
Spikerman said changes in the age group entering the workforce also need to influence how employers prepare for mental health. As younger generations enter the workforce, they are seeking workplaces that focus on mental health.
“Employees are coming into our company younger and younger, and by the time they join us they have less and less work experience,” Spikerman said. “Lack of confidence in the work you do can lead to a range of problems around anxiety, work, depression and more. Masu.”
Halstead agreed, adding that as it became easier to discuss mental health issues in the workplace, he noticed that older generations were getting involved as well.
“I was struck by the broader cultural shift that if you need help, it’s okay,” he says.
More about Crain’s Grand Rapids business:
Grand Valley enrolls largest and most diverse freshman class in school history
Blue Cross plans to ease pre-approval process for more procedures and surgeries
Grifka hopes to build momentum as the next president of the University of Michigan HealthWest.