As competition to attract talent continues to heat up amid a tight labour market, the vast majority (90 per cent) of U.S. employers are planning to invest more in employee mental-health support, according to a new survey by Wellable.

The survey, which polled almost 200 U.S. health insurance brokers and wellness consultants, found slightly more than a third (35 per cent) of U.S. employers plan to spend more money on benefits, compared to those that expect to invest the same amount (43 per cent) or less (22 per cent). Specifically, respondents said employers are planning to invest more in stress management and resilience (76 per cent) and mindfulness and meditation (71 per cent) programs.

Read: Employers enhancing mental-health benefits over next three years, finds survey

“As employers continue to appreciate just how vital mental health is for overall well-being, as well as a host of positive organizational outcomes, they are rapidly expanding the range of their mental-health benefits,” said a report on the survey’s findings.

A majority (86 per cent) of respondents stated that mental-health resources are the most frequently utilized benefit among employers that are enacting anti-burnout plans. The top three steps respondents said employers are undertaking to prevent and mitigate employee burnout, include: mental-health resources (86 per cent), flexible-work schedules (73 per cent) and employee engagement opportunities (32 per cent).

Among the companies that lack strategies for preventing and mitigating burnout, survey respondents said the primary barrier is a lack of budget (64 per cent), which is a more significant concern for smaller companies. More than half (55 per cent) of respondents also said employers feel constrained by limited internal resources, which also poses a problem for more than two-thirds (69 per cent) of large companies.

Read: Employers beefing up mental-health benefits amid pandemic: survey 

Additionally, 80 per cent of respondents said employers intend to invest more in telemedicine and coronavirus vaccinations (57 per cent). And given the ongoing pandemic, respondents said employers are planning to invest less in onsite fitness classes (63 per cent), health fairs (59 per cent), free healthy food/stocked kitchens (54 per cent), biometric screenings (50 per cent) and onsite clinics (35 per cent).

Currently, the top three new benefits employers are offering to promote mental health in the workplace amid the pandemic are employee assistance programs (62 per cent), digital health tools (46 per cent) and education (43 per cent).

Notably, the survey found 84 per cent of respondents said employers’ decision to invest more in benefits was fuelled by a desire to realize a return on investment, while others said the increased investment was due to employers’ desire to match corporate interests with employees’ interests (81 per cent), create competitive plans for staff (77 per cent), as well as the rising cost of benefits (72 per cent), uncertainty about health-care reform (48 per cent) and concerns over data security (40 per cent).

In terms of employers’ decision-making on which vendors to use, the top five criteria cited were pricing (75 per cent), flexibility/customizability (63 per cent), innovation/technology (55 per cent), reporting/measurement (52 per cent) and customer service (44 per cent).

Read: 2021 Mental Health Summit: Using mental-health supports to attract, retain talent in tight labour market