Employers & Brokers, Workforce Health | By | 04/19/22 | 4 Minute Read

Why Employers Should Invest in Workforce Mental Health

After more than two years since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, virtually every aspect of life has changed – especially the way we work. 

As a result, employees have new needs when it comes to their mental wellbeing. And this impacts the way you bring employees back in the office, deal with increased competition for talent, and look to support your workforce’s overall health. Let’s look at three trends to understand how each impacts employee wellbeing.

Trend #1: Managing Hybrid Work

Employees have grown accustomed to the flexibility of working from home, with many enjoying a lack of commute and more time with family. Employers that try to require employees to work fully on-site will struggle with a workforce that experiences lower wellbeing, higher burnout, and a higher intent to leave. 

For the foreseeable future, nearly half of leaders and managers intend to continue enabling hybrid options that allow remote work, while preserving in-office interactions and engagement. Allowing employees to work partly at home and partly in the office balances the needs of both employees and employers. 

Trend #2: Keeping Pace with a Tight Labor Market

One reason employers are eager to offer hybrid work is that they know employees have more options than ever, with 84% of organizations reporting labor shortages in the last year. 

In addition to building a hybrid work culture, employers are seeking to improve morale and engage employees by placing a renewed focus on mental health. As with the increased support for hybrid work, this is driven by employee demand for greater wellbeing. According to a recent American Psychological Association survey of employees, mental health is on their mind:

  • 87% of employees think employers should help with mental health
  • 32% want encouragement to take care of their health
  • 30% want encouragement to take breaks during the day

Trend #3: Improving Health and Wellbeing

The pandemic has made us all stressed and anxious, and even as the threat of the pandemic recedes there is no shortage of bad news to keep people on edge. Another survey by the APA shows that people are feeling the impact of prolonged stress, anxiety and uncertainty:

  • 58% of people experienced undesired weight gain
  • 23% drink more alcohol to cope
  • 42% rely on unhealthy habits to get by

Stress makes it difficult for employees to find the energy to take care of themselves, never mind their work. Even if an employer only cares about the bottom line, managing employee stress is now a business imperative. But while a SHRM survey shows that 86% of employers identify stress and burnout as a major threat to their workforce, only 26% have a formalized wellbeing program in place to help employees manage stress, showing that there is still much work to be done. 

3 Best Practices for Post-Pandemic Workforce Wellbeing

To help employees get back on track, here are three things you can do to optimize your workplace wellbeing program:

1. Focus on holistic health: Stress not only affects mental wellbeing, but can lead to physical health issues like heart disease and high blood pressure. This means you need to offer comprehensive, holistic health tools that include stress management and emotional wellbeing components, in addition to health tools that support traditional wellness initiatives like smoking cessation, movement, and healthy eating.

At Fitbit, we’ve built products and services around the idea of holistic health behavior change. More specifically, we believe that there are four key foundational behaviors that work interdependently to drive better outcomes: mindfulness and stress management, sleep, physical activity, and nutrition. By helping employees improve their mental wellbeing, they can sleep better and have more energy for activity and other healthy choices, improving their whole health. 

2. Make workforce wellbeing a 24/7 focus: Stress doesn’t end when a shift is over. To support employees effectively, you need to provide tools that work all day long.

Fitbit solutions deliver at-work, at-home, and on-the-go health and wellbeing experiences that can be shared with family, friends, and coworkers. For example, Fitbit Premium gives employees a personal trainer in their pocket that lets them access many different types of workouts when it works for them – whether it’s a five-minute activity break between meetings or a longer workout after work with friends. 

3. Make programs adaptable: Employees will get more out of a program that can be adapted to their personal goals and where they are in their health journey. At the same time, employers know that the world can change at any moment, and need to be able to quickly pivot to meet the needs of employees. For both business leaders and their workforce, adaptability is key.

Fitbit Care provides personalized insights for users based on their engagement, ensuring everyone’s experience is unique to them. For employers, this makes it easier to offer a comprehensive program that takes care of all of their employees instead of having to manage multiple programs. 

Without a doubt, employee mental wellbeing is something that all employers need to now prioritize. By investing in both the mental and physical wellbeing of employees, organizations can build a healthy workforce that ultimately translates to a healthier business. Schedule a demo to learn how Fitbit can help drive better outcomes for your organization. 

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