What You Need to Know
- One in three workers who've returned to the office say their mental health has suffered.
- Almost half of business owners are getting more questions about mental health and employee well-being resources.
- This issue may affect owners of some small businesses as much as it affects some of the corporate giants.
The mental health challenges employers have tried to address over the past year are far from solved, and new studies show feelings of burnout could be exacerbated by a return to the office.
According to a recent McKinsey study, roughly one in three workers back in the workplace said the return-to-office shift negatively impacted their mental health. And almost half of those who have not yet returned anticipate negative mental health impacts. That’s driving higher demand from employees for well-being resources.
In fact, research from Principal shows nearly half (47%) of business owners continue to see an increase in questions about mental health and well-being resources available to employees. That’s prompting many companies to wonder how they can best support employees through this period of transition.
A Solution Right in Front of Employers
For the 34% of businesses with access to an employee assistance program (EAP), these offerings are a tangible way to help those who have concerns affecting their well-being, including the anxiety of returning to the office.
What Your Peers Are Reading
Despite the pandemic, EAPs are quite unfamiliar to many employees. Here are three ways companies can encourage EAP use:
1. Reinforce the idea that no issue is too small.
Some employees may think these services are only for big concerns, such as substance abuse or a diagnosed mental or physical illness. They don’t think about general issues such as fears about safely returning to the workplace, work/life balance, or nutrition and physical fitness. Communicating about the program and what it can be used for is key.
2. Stress confidentiality.
One in four adults with a mental illness report an unmet need for treatment, a number that hasn’t decreased since 2011. While progress has been made to destigmatize mental health, perception remains a barrier. At work, a cause for concern among employees may be a lack of trust in the protection of confidential information. Communication to employees about confidentiality and reinforcing it’s ok to seek help may help boost the use of an EAP.
3. Highlight how EAPs can help employees help others.
A Principal employee recently shared a blog about how she used our EAP to help her sister. She’d been on a journey supporting her sister’s mental health and had run out of ways to help. The desire to continue supporting her sister is what prompted this employee to reach out. An EAP counselor helped her find additional support for sister. This eventually led to finding her own support, a step she might not have otherwise taken. Each EAP has its own stipulations, but for many, the benefits are available to household members, another important item to communicate to employees if available.
Smaller Businesses need more well-being offerings to compete.
Nearly a third (31%) of businesses surveyed by Principal said they plan to increase mental health benefits offerings. But without more guidance and encouragement, smaller businesses may miss out on good talent due to a lack of mental health offerings.