Workplace wellness and employee mental health are popular topics of discussion and top priorities for organizations across Canada — and that conversation will continue in 2024 as organizations take a more preventative, strategic and holistic approach.
Over the past couple of years, employers have been responding to mental-health needs within their workplace as a reaction to employees in times of need. Organizations have offered webinars, increased psychological benefit amounts and signed up for programs that supported their workforce in a time of crisis. Nearly four years since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, employers have much more knowledge, perspective and research on how to best support their teams.
Organizations that are successful at supporting the mental health of their workers focus on both prevention and intervention. No one experiences mental health the same way as another; therefore, the approach to supporting employees will never be one size fits all. It starts with understanding workers’ needs, while considering the size of an organization, specific industry nuances, knowledge of individual roles and responsibilities and seriously evaluating the psychological risk factors present in the workplace. But this isn’t a one-and-done strategy — it requires a continuous cycle of gathering employee feedback and modifying where appropriate.
Research around the return on investment of employee mental health has now been widely circulated and accepted. Organizations are moving away from the quick-fix approach and are investing time, effort and personnel dedicated to this work. Employers are starting to address the root causes of mental-health challenges in order to make a sustainable, long-lasting impact and company leaders are empowering their employees to play active roles in the process. Workers know what they need, so an employee-led approach to strategy development ensures their voices are heard and helps increase adoption rates.
There’s also an increasing need for the upskilling of managers. People leaders play a critical role when it comes to employee mental health and many managers lack the specific skillsets to create a psychologically safe workplace, support someone who is experiencing mental-health challenges and take care of their own mental health.
The coming year will likely bring a maturing conversation around mental-health strategies, which will see organizations investing in manager mental health and addressing root causes of psychological harm within their workplace.