A Follow Up to 2020 Research: Employee Mental Health Leaps in Priority

A Follow Up to 2020 Research: Employee Mental Health Leaps in Priority

The majority of employees believe it’s important that a company prioritizes their mental health.

A new survey finds 78 percent of American employees feel “empowered” to let someone at their company know when they aren’t feeling well. Whether it be physically or mentally, up from 40 percent in 2020. These findings are from a U.S. employee wellness survey commissioned by TELUS International, a leading global customer experience and digital solutions provider. Current survey results, compared to those in October 2020, indicate that employers have changed their approach towards supporting mental health in the workplace. The research shows employee phone calls are better supporting mental health needs. Fewer employees say they would quit their job for another one that better prioritized its employees’ mental health: 57 percent in 2021 vs. 80 percent in 2020.

“In this age of technology and social connection we are all experiencing the significant impact of the global pandemic in real time around the clock, as well as on a sustained basis as we collectively navigate this fourth wave. These factors have served to amplify the stressors and emotional tolls the pandemic has brought as well as the disruptions to our routines and day-to-day experiences, including how and where we work,” said Marilyn Tyfting, chief corporate officer of TELUS International. “The result has been a much needed shift in the past year from a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ attitude to a ‘do ask, do tell and let’s talk’ mindset that has transformed the way society perceives and discusses mental health, both more generally and in the context of the workplace. Employees need, and are increasingly asking for, resources to help them cope with mental health challenges, and companies are responding by enhancing the breadth and scope of programs and services they provide, as well as making them more accessible.”

The survey reveals employee insights on work-life flexibility. The majority of employees continue to believe that it is important that a company prioritizes their mental health. Many respondents shared that having more flexibility in their working hours would positively impact their mental health. Returning to the office has increased stress for 53 percent of workers who cited the top reasons as: commute time (70 percent), potential COVID-19 transmission (68 percent) and that they feel safer working from home.

“Employers need to understand that their employees today are not the same people who left their offices in March 2020, and that now is not the time to pump the brakes on mental health initiatives.”

Prioritizing employee health, safety and well-being will continue to be the most important not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it leads to improved company performance.

About the Author

Shereen Hashem is the Associate Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety magazine.

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