It is well documented that exhaustion, office culture problems, and life challenges entering the workplace can have a negative impact on mental health.
But during the pandemic, more than ever, companies supported the mental health of employees with benefits designed to connect workers with therapists, encourage mindfulness, and restore the boundaries of working and working life. In the summer, social justice movements prompted employers to highlight their mental health resources to help employees navigate racial trauma as well.
Now, many companies are figuring out how to get workers back to a physical space, which could further complicate the mental health of employees, says Yu Tse Heng, a research researcher at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business.
“As much as employees have trouble working from home, many have benefited from greater flexibility and autonomy in determining how their workday is structured. For example, employees could take short breaks or take a nap. during the day when they felt exhausted, ”he said. he says.
“Providing employees with the flexibility and tools needed to navigate their own recovery will definitely help employees protect their mental health when they return to the office.”
CNBC Make It spoke with some advanced companies about how they support the mental well-being of their employees. This is what they do.
Return your time to employees
Experts agree that encouraging employees to prioritize well-being means little if they don’t have free time to do so. After working at such a high capacity during the pandemic, some companies return their workers to their workers.
Accounting firm PwC, for example, set a goal for the entire company to shorten meetings by 25%, encouraging executives to do things like reduce appointments from one hour to 45 minutes, says DeAnne Aussem, leader of the leadership and well-being development.
PwC also encourages employees to block on Fridays after 12 noon, local time, as a protected time and not bookable on their calendars. They can use this uninterrupted blog for anything from focus work to rest, knowing they won’t miss the meeting or the scheduled deadline.
And the firm increased the number of company-wide rest days around major summer vacations, such as the Friday before Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Pay employees to use the holidays
PwC recently released headlines to offer a $ 250 vacation bonus to employees who take 40 consecutive hours of vacation at a time, up to once a quarter, to get a total annual bonus of $ 1,000.
PwC teams also include wellness goals in performance goals, Aussem says, which means they are literally paid to prioritize their health and well-being at work. This is also based on accountability. If an employee achieved a wellness goal to use more vacation time, but leaves it on the table, for example, a manager can sign up and make a plan.
Provide a la carte resources
On-demand, application-based mental health providers have grown in the last year, with companies offering workers free or discounted subscriptions for teletherapy (such as at BetterHelp and Talkspace) or guided meditation (such as through Calm and Headspace).
Software company Zendesk partnered with mental health benefit provider Modern Health from May 2020 to provide easily accessible resources, including therapy, training, and videos. The company saw an overall 25% use among employees during the first week and that commitment has remained strong, says Evangeline Mandiola, global head of profits at Zendesk.
At consulting firm EY, Mike Weiner, a mental health clinician and leader of EY Assist, has also experienced an increase in interest in behavioral health training: “It’s not just therapy for problems like depression and anxiety, but it can help people be proactive with issues like exhaustion, stress, or help people follow a wellness routine. “
Extending mental health benefits to homes
EY also increased its mental health offerings to 25 sessions at no cost for mental health counseling or training per employee and year. And it extended that benefit to all family members in the household, including household associations, Weiner says. This means, for example, that children of any age, parents and grandparents living in the home are covered.
“We want to recognize that if you live with a family member who is experiencing major issues that may not have their own coverage, this will also affect you,” Weiner says.
Ensure that resources are inclusive
Last year the ongoing racial inequalities were highlighted in so many ways. Therefore, it is important that mental health care resources are inclusive and reflect the needs of those who are likely to need help, says Dr. Nikole Benders-Hadi, a psychiatrist and behavioral health director at Doctor On Demand.
For example, more than 60% of Doctor on Demand clinicians are women, 43% are non-white ethnic minorities, 21% are black, and 20% are LGBTQ +, she says. “When you want to be vulnerable to your trauma, you’ll be able to see a provider that you like and can offer culturally competent care leaders for better results,” says Benders-Hadi.
Additional financial support
Financial insecurity can affect mental health, so some organizations provide additional financial support.
At Calm, the provider of meditation apps, employees receive things like a monthly welfare endowment that will be used in services like therapy, gym memberships, nutrition or massage programs, as well as phone and internet rebates. an expense for the home office.
“It is imperative that Calm internally reflects supportive values, shaping future mental well-being in the workplace,” says Scott Domann, CEO of Calm.
Employee connection creation
Companies that provide the space for workers to connect can help them combat social isolation, generate resilience in the community, and reinforce a culture of psychological security.
Through Modern Health, Zendesk employees participate in community circles, similar to an employee resource group, some of which focus on destigmatizing mental health in the workplace. Others focus on conversations about challenges such as addressing political and social concerns around elections or having family members in India during the current virus outbreak, Mandiola says.