As we make our way through Mental Health Awareness Week, HR Acuity reveals its Eighth Annual Employee Relations Benchmark Study, underscoring the significant intersection between workplace dynamics and mental health.

This awareness week is an ideal opportunity for businesses to be reminded of the importance of mental well-being and the impact it has on employee relations across industries. The Annual Employee Relations Benchmark Study sheds light on a range of challenges exacerbated by mental health issues, reflecting a direct correlation between the well-being of employees and the operational success of organisations.

The findings illustrate the speed in which the field of employee relations is evolving and highlight the need for organisations to strategically adapt to address both cutting-edge technological advancements and complex human-centric issues.

The findings include input from more than 250 organisations representing over 8.7 million employees globally, including nearly twenty percent of Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies.

Mental health issues in the workplace continued to dominate in 2023

For the second consecutive year, mental health challenges significantly impacted employee relations, driving an increase in issue volumes in major categories. Policy violations, behavioural issues, discrimination, harassment, retaliation allegations and EEOC claims reached their highest levels since 2018, and performance issues also saw an uptick from 2022.

A staggering 70% of organisations cited an increase in mental health-related challenges as the primary factor behind rising case volumes. The widespread mental health crisis in the workplace is exacerbated by the effects of the pandemic, aggressive return-to-office mandates and a generation of workers more aware of mental health diagnoses.

Organisations must focus on refining their processes to triage mental health issues and use employee-related data to identify patterns and implement targeted interventions to better support employees.

Organisations agree that trust is imperative, but too few proactively build trust with transparent, two-way communication

The findings show that 89% of organisations recognise the importance of building trust through transparency, yet only 11% share aggregated, anonymous employee relations and investigation outcomes with their workforce, primarily due to legal concerns. A lack of transparency can lead to misconceptions that negatively impact an organisation’s reputation.

AI boosts employee relations, but balancing it is crucial to address legal issues and retain the human touch

There is a consensus on the potential of AI to transform employee relations. Nearly all surveyed organisations (90%) expressed interest in using AI for enhanced data analytics, predictive modelling, and ensuring compliance, yet adoption is still in the early stages amid concerns over legal and ethical implications.

Deb Muller, CEO of HR Acuity, commented:

The continued rise in mental health issues and policy violations require that we refine our processes, gather feedback and enhance aftercare for affected employees. It’s crucial for organisations to embrace transparency to foster trust and integrity. By integrating AI and enhancing investigative training, we can support our workforce more effectively and preserve our organisational culture. However, it’s critical to adopt AI ethically, ensuring it complements essential human interactions to protect our employees.

Deb Muller, CEO of HR Acuity

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.