3 Ways To Nurture Your Employees’ Mental Well-Being: ‘It Builds That Trust In Them that You Have Their Back’

Fortune Well May 26, 2024


3 Ways To Nurture Your Employees’ Mental Well-Being: ‘It Builds That Trust In Them that You Have Their Back’

Employees want healthier work environments, specifically those that prioritize their mental health. 

Nearly all workers polled in the American Psychological Association’s 2023 Work in America Survey (92%) said it’s very or somewhat important to them to work for an organization that values their emotional and psychological well-being. Yet 77% reported having experienced work-related stress in the last month, and 43% worried that telling their employer about a mental health condition would have a negative impact on them in the workplace.

When employees suffer, so too does business. Untreated depression, for example, has cost the U.S. economy more than $51 billion in absenteeism from work and lost productivity, according to nonprofit advocacy group Mental Health America.

But what exactly makes a workplace healthy? How can employers nurture employees’ mental well-being in ways that foster both company morale and the bottom line?

“When you think of a healthy workplace environment, you’re just looking to create a space for your employees where they feel heard and supported,” Dr. Asima Ahmad, cofounder and chief medical officer of Carrot Fertility, said Monday during a panel discussion at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference in Dana Point, Calif. “That could be through health care benefits; that could be through other benefits; it could be through resources that are available on site.”

She added, “You invest in your employees and it builds that trust in them that you have their back, and they will continue to work hard and be able to invest back in what you would like them to do.”

Holly Ojalvo, Fortune senior vice president of strategy and operations, moderated the panel between Ahmad and three other leaders in the workplace wellness industry. Below are their tips for creating a healthy, happy workplace.

Listen authentically

Jaclyn Wainwright, cofounder and CEO of Aircare Health, urges employers to hear out their employees with compassion.

“Not many people in the workplace are taught that skill,” Wainwright said. “You can listen with your head, and you can repeat a whole bunch of processes and you can roll out or operationalize a plan. 

“But listening with your heart, you will get to know the others on your team. You will understand the issues they face; you will have a better dialogue and a better community, which together can solve more problems.”

Employees want to hear from you, too, establishing a dialogue, she said.

“Being ignored at work is more detrimental to one’s overall well-being than being harassed,” Wainwright said. “For instance, if you were going to give negative feedback, that’s going to create a better outcome than, say, giving none at all.”

Harness the power of mentorship

Connecting employees of all levels to one another—whether through formal or informal mentorship programs—can enhance a sense of workplace belonging, said Dr. Aditi Vyas, chief medical officer and corporate medical director of United Airlines.

“I’m a physician by trade and usually, my mentors have always been physicians. But I always wanted a mentor that had the business acumen, the leadership acumen,” she said. “United has a program where you can have lateral mentors, vertical mentors, and then external mentors, so there’s a group of people they can partner with from other companies and learn from.”

Because mentor-mentee pairings don’t always work out, be sure to follow up and make sure the relationship is mutually beneficial, Vyas said.

Help prevent burnout

Every job has its stressors, but when work breeds chronic stress, it can be toxic for all involved. Consider how you can keep your employees’ batteries charged, said Russell Glass, CEO of Headspace. 

“Think about the physical health, mental health, financial health of a person—an environment where those are all sustainable,” he said. “As someone comes to work, they feel like they can continue to do it over and over again without burnout, without feeling like they’re not going to meet the sustainability of all those things every time.”

In addition, company leaders can help destigmatize discussing mental illness in the workplace by being open about their own mental health, Glass said. 

“As the executives go, so goes the rest of the company,” he said. “[Employees] see a CEO or a C-level talking about these things, it normalizes it and makes it easier for them to talk about it.”

We are Your GPS to Success Let’s Get Started

We Guide Homeowners through the complicated process of selling their home using our 4 Phase Selling Process and 3 Prong Marketing Strategy that alleviates their stress and moves them effortlessly to their next destination. Schedule a 15 Minute Complimentary Strategy Session Today

Follow Us On Instagram