Benefits and Compensation

Walking the Talk on Employee Mental Well-Being

Salary alone is no longer enough to attract and retain talent. Employees are now seeking holistic benefits packages that include programs and resources that also support their mental well-being.

A holistic benefits package goes beyond health insurance and should be comprehensive enough that all employees can see themselves and their families benefiting from it throughout the year. This might come in the form of student loan assistance, extended parental leave if an employee is expecting a baby or planning to adopt, caregiver leave, or a retiree advocacy program. Access to these types of programs, which promote wellness and work/life balance, may help alleviate stressors that are not necessarily noticeable on the surface.

Benefit needs and priorities can often vary among employees. For example, what’s important to millennials will likely differ from those living in a sandwich generation—taking care of young families, as well as aging parents—and employees who are close to retirement. Regardless of where employees are on their journey, everyone can benefit from programs that support and foster mental well-being.

Honoring Down Time

According to a recent Forbes article, one of the top 10 most valued employee benefits is paid self-care days or time off for mental health. This isn’t surprising given that Mental Health America’s “Mind The Workplace” Report 2022 found four out of five employees say that workplace stress affects their relationships with friends, family, and coworkers.

There are creative ways employers can provide additional perks to promote mental well-being, and they don’t necessarily need to be a part of the traditional package. For example:

  1. Declare Zoom-free zones. Zoom gloom is real, and while many companies are operating in a hybrid environment, this can mean that even if you are in the office, you may still be on camera often. Establishing Zoom-free zones, when meetings are off limits, allow employees to focus and not feel pressure to always be “on.” This can be a certain day of the week or for a specified period of time during the day.
  2. Promote and honor a daily pause. This means for 1, specified hour each day, all employees “pause” for lunch, a break, exercise, or however they choose to spend the time to recharge.
  3. Support summer Fridays. Encourage employees to log off early on Fridays between Memorial Day and Labor Day to provide an added break during the summer months. Depending on business operations, adjustments may need to be considered for some organizations.

As with any employee program, success depends on support from the top, so it’s important for leaders to put these behaviors into practice, too.

Moving in the Right Direction

According to the 2022 Work and Well-Being Survey from the American Psychological Association, more than 70% of workers believe their employer is more concerned about the mental health of employees now than in the past. This news is encouraging, as it’s important to recognize that every employee’s journey is different. Life is an adventure, and employees expect and deserve to be supported by their employers every step of the way.

Angela Colon-Mahoney is vice president of people and business services for Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc., an industry leader in mental health.

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