In 2020, as a result of the pandemic, organisations stepped up and focused on mental health at a time where individuals were faced with anxiety and high levels of stress. The focus on this area was necessary considering the impact of the pandemic on individuals personally as well as at work, with many facing working from home, furlough and even redundancy.
It was recognised that healthier, happier employees are those who felt that their wellbeing was supported by leaders and organisations who showed compassion and understanding. It was this that also encouraged individuals to feel more engaged and aligned to the business, making happier employees, during a difficult time.
Now, in 2021, studies have shown that companies seem to be scaling back their focus and attention on this area, despite people still feeling challenged by the situation around them and the changes to their working life.
Employees still need support from their employers when it comes to mental health. It’s worrying that mental heath trends in the workplace appear to be lessening in 2021.
Mental Health Trends in the Workplace in 2021
Below, you’ll find some of the trends appearing and reasoning as to why it is important for employers to still consider supporting the mental welfare of their teams. These trends serve as an important warning that if mental health support isn’t there for employees, there will be consequences for the organisations later down the line.
Trend 1 – Employers are Retreating when Employees need them most
It appears that organisations are starting to reduce the amount of support for employees as well as the quality of the support. Studies have shown that the decline in solutions is worse in larger organisations meaning more employees will struggle.
Rather than retreat, employers should be using 2020 as the wakeup call, they needed to realise the support that should be there for their staff. They should be using the lessons learned to prioritise and treat mental health support as a critical area. The impact of the pandemic only highlighted issues that have always been there and will remain there.
Whilst some businesses have created fantastic support systems and programmes for their employees, research has shown that there are still gaps when it comes to supporting stress in the workplace, something that isn’t going to go away. It is therefore recommended that a strong emphasis is put on employee mental health and wellbeing with a flexible and easily accessible mental health programme.
Trend 2 – Employees Signal Ongoing need for Mental Health Programmes
We know that mental health struggles such as anxiety and stress aren’t going anywhere despite the pandemic easing. Employees are still reaching out for support and programmes to use to ease struggles and improve their wellbeing. Tools such as mindfulness and meditation programmes have been used throughout the pandemic to improve wellbeing and could now be considered as steps to prevent symptoms from getting worse.
In the current climate, it is still important that employers continue to improve their mental health and wellness programmes. Platforms like hug can support employees and employers to be able to create bespoke solutions to suit individual needs and circumstances.
Trend 3 – Overall Stress is Letting up, but Work-Related Stress is more Prominent
Stress has been one of the main mental health concerns during the pandemic with people being stressed over financial strain, job stability and family situation such as childcare support. It has been found that women have disproportionately been impacted, potentially due to childcare falling to them. Younger people have too been impacted by stress more than those over the age of 44 and with the current Hybrid situation, those stressors such as relationships with others, money and work life balance are set to remain.
It is important therefore to implement stress surveys to track levels across the business. This will allow employers to create strategies for dealing with stress accordingly and target those impacted.
Trend 4 – Priorities Shifted as the Pandemic Dragged on
Mental health benefits are more important to prospective employees now compared to in 2020. There is evidently a desire now, if not an expectation, that organisations will be invested in the welfare and well-being of employees and for organisations to provide ample resources and programmes to support in this area.
Whilst priorities such as flexible hours and working from home are still the top for employees, there has been a shift from the traditional benefits such as bonuses or retirement benefits and instead, focus on wellbeing and a better work life balance are prioritised.
Trend 5 – Mental Health is a Rising Threat to Retention, Engagement, and Productivity
Despite the recent relaxing of the rules, implemented due to the pandemic, many people are still feeling anxious and stressed about their working situation, their health, and the general climate we find ourselves in. Employees are still struggling and the expectation of us all just ‘getting back to normal’ can add to the stress for those who do not feel ready yet. Studies have found that work stress and burnout are on the rise and this is concerning for employers who need their staff in order to maintain their business performance and retain the top talent.
The more that employers reduce their resources and support for mental health, the more that employees will be disillusioned, and they will become less engaged, leading to productivity levels to dip. All the hard work and efforts put in over the past 18 months will have been for nothing and employers cannot afford to let that happen and must continue to support their teams during these times.
The data and findings from recent surveys have shown clear trends that are worrying to read. Employees evidently need, and are still seeking, support for their mental health and wellbeing, and prioritise this over other factors that once, seemed to be the most important priorities in the workplace.
The trends are showing that organisations are starting to draw back on their support and the resources available and this needs to be addressed. Businesses will need to continue to offer the levels of support that the wake-up call of the pandemic, forced them to offer. This pandemic has highlighted the need for ongoing employee support as well as the importance of acting proactively and not reactively, with their employee’s mental health in mind.
Understanding your team can help build a happier and healthier workplace. If you’re interested in how hug can support your team, please get in touch with us today