In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the spotlight on mental health in the workplace has never been more prevalent. Research shows that 46% of employees’ mental health had worsened since the pandemic and 60% admitted to feeling stressed at work every day. Furthermore, these figures highlight the immense strain on workers and calls for businesses to prioritise employee mental health and wellbeing and a need for a systematic workplace wellbeing strategy.
A Well Worker is a Productive Worker
The correlation between employee wellbeing and productivity is undeniable. When employees feel supported and their mental health is prioritised, they are more likely to perform at their best.
It’s estimated that every year, 12 billion working days are lost to those battling anxiety and depression. Studies have revealed the correlation between poor mental health and lost productivity in the workplace. And on the contrary, a workplace priding itself for being ‘mentally healthy’ is often associated with job satisfaction and engagement, and in turn, increased productivity, and innovation.
These findings reinforce the crucial role that businesses play in supporting their workforces to unlock human and business potential; however, just 28% of employees believe employers are doing enough, and 50% actively want more support.
The case for doing more is clear: Investing in employee health is investing in the future of your company.
Below are my four key steps that employers can take in building a mental health strategy to best support employee wellbeing.
Four key steps to enhance workplace wellbeing:
- Role Model from the Top
A designated senior leader, supported by a cross-functional steering group, should be entrusted with overseeing the design and implementation of a multi-faceted wellbeing strategy. Having a dedicated senior role responsible for mental health and wellbeing, such as a Director of Health and Wellbeing is key to success.
CEO and senior leadership involvement in mental health initiatives also sends a powerful message throughout the organisation. It communicates to employees that there is a dedicated strategy for mental health and wellbeing, one that the company takes seriously, is willing to invest in taking action and encourages those to speak out if they are experiencing challenges with their mental health.
- Good work, with a good work culture
An individual’s wellbeing in the workplace rests on the nature of their tasks and environment in which they operate.
Does the work hold personal significance for the employee? Are they integrated socially, surrounded by colleagues they connect with? Are they duly acknowledged, both in terms of financial compensation and psychological fulfilment?
By asking these questions, employers can reflect on conditions in which employees work and operate, establishing different needs for further wellbeing support.
A workplace culture that nurtures social connections and provides recognition, both financially and emotionally, helps foster a sense of belonging and purpose, opportunities for learning, growth, and advancement. Additionally, ensuring fair treatment from supervisors and line managers is vital. Offering flexible work arrangements, such as flexible hours, remote work options, and compressed work weeks, can help employees manage their work-life balance and helps reduce stress, overwhelm and burnout.
- Be Proactive – Prevention is Better Than Cure
It is no doubt that prevention surpasses the need for a cure. Early intervention can help prevent issues arising or diminish the likelihood of a full-blown burnout.
Employers can invest in resilience of their staff; equipping them with stronger coping skills and promoting mentally healthier habits. Digital Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) tools are anonymous and accessible at any time, allowing people to use them remotely, 24/7.
- Clear Communication and Active Listening
Tailored solutions are crucial for addressing individual wellbeing, as one-size-fits-all approaches often provide only temporary relief. Demographic differences, such as work-related pressures for younger employees and family-related stresses for older generations, highlight the need for customised support.
Establishing open and transparent communication channels is essential for creating an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health concerns with their supervisors or HR. Survey results indicate that employees value support in various forms, including “duvet days,” gym or fitness memberships, access to counselling, digital mental health tools, and access to mental health first aiders.
It is crucial for both the organisation and the employee to take dual responsibility in becoming proactive about mental health. This includes organisations better understanding their employees’ needs and taking action to mitigate sources of stress. Additionally, exhibiting adaptability in providing support is essential. Companies that prioritise mental health adjustments not only enhance personal wellbeing but also foster a more cohesive and valuable team dynamic.
 WHO September 2022 https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-at-work
 de Oliveira, C., Saka, M., Bone, L. et al. The Role of Mental Health on Workplace Productivity: A Critical Review of the Literature. Appl Health Econ Health Policy 21, 167–193 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40258-022-00761-w
Dr Carolyn Lorain
Dr Carolyn Lorian is a trained clinical psychologist, currently serving as the Head of Clinical Transformation at SilverCloud® by Amwell® since November 2021. With five years of experience at Deloitte as the Senior Workforce Transformation and Workplace Wellbeing Consulting Leader, Carolyn has specialised in human capital consulting, focusing on mental health, leadership development, culture transformation and employee experience.