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3 Things Companies Get Wrong When It Comes to Mental Health

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In an era where the importance of mental health is increasingly recognized, many companies are still falling short in supporting their employees' well-being. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and here at Happy Box, we’re often asked for mental health and wellness themed gifts by our corporate clients with the goal of helping their employees relax, recharge, and prioritize mental well-being. We wanted to learn a bit more about the rising issue, so we spoke with Heather Rafanello, MSW, LCSW, owner of Growing Mindset Therapy - a private practice that specializes in Corporate Therapy - to further understand the impact of workplace dynamics on mental health and how companies can do better. Here are three common mistakes she says companies are making, and how they can course-correct for a healthier, more productive workforce.

1. Neglecting Mental Health Support Despite the Staggering Costs

The statistics paint a stark picture: U.S. workers are among the most stressed globally, and depression and anxiety cost companies a staggering $1 trillion annually in lost productivity. Despite this, many companies have been slow to prioritize mental health support.

“As a mental health professional, I recognize my bias here - but the statistics are pretty alarming,” says Rafanello. “Depression and anxiety are common, and for many they can be totally manageable with the right care. It feels like such a missed opportunity to make change in, not only the lives of our fellow human beings but, our employees who give so much of their time, energy, and effort to our companies end goal.”

In a recent survey, only 36% of employee benefits leaders considered offering mental health benefits "very important" to prospective employees in 2022. However, this figure soared to 94% in 2023, indicating a growing recognition of the significance of mental health support in attracting and retaining talent.

“As a gift company, it doesn’t feel like we should be involved in a workplace mental health conversation at first,” says Ariel Redmond, co-founder of Happy Box. “But we’re seeing so many of our corporate clients, many of whom are charged with improving employee engagement, leveraging gifting in creative ways to surprise and delight employees in unique ways. We’re currently working on many Mental Health Awareness Month corporate gifts, with self-care, physical wellness, and meditation kits being shipped to remote employees all over the world,” says Redmond. “We find ourselves brainstorming on many corporate mental wellness themes with our clients, and we’re seeing it make a real impact on employee engagement.” 

Innovative approaches like adding employee gifting into initiatives to supplement  access to mental health resources for employees can make an impact and boost morale.

2. Overlooking the Link Between Engagement and Mental Well-being

Employee engagement isn't just a buzzword; it's a crucial factor in organizational success. Studies show that companies with high employee engagement significantly outperform their peers in profitability. Moreover, engaged employees experience lower absenteeism and turnover rates.

“Employees' well-being is a direct indicator of a company's overall success,” says Rafanello. “We can’t pretend that these employees are not real people, with real lives, families, and hearts. The burdens that they carry day in and day out weigh on them, and as a result weigh on the performance of a company. Yet, many companies fail to recognize the profound connection between engagement and mental well-being. Stress and work-related stressors can undermine employee engagement, leading to disengagement, burnout, and decreased productivity.”

With 40% of workers reporting their jobs as "very" or "extremely" stressful, and a staggering 75% believing that job stress has increased over the past generation, it's clear that addressing workplace stressors is imperative for fostering engagement and preserving mental health.

“By proactively identifying and mitigating stressors, providing resources for stress management, and promoting a healthy work-life balance, companies can cultivate a culture of engagement and resilience that benefits both employees and the bottom line,” says Rafanello. “Integrating initiatives like employee gifting can further enhance engagement by creating positive experiences and reinforcing a sense of appreciation.”

3. Ignoring the Warning Signs of Burnout and Mental Strain

Employee burnout is on the rise, with 63% of workers contemplating quitting their jobs to escape work-related stressors. Yet, many companies fail to recognize the warning signs of burnout and mental strain until it's too late.

Burnout doesn't happen overnight; it's a gradual process fueled by chronic stress, excessive workload, and lack of support. By the time employees exhibit symptoms such as exhaustion, cynicism, and reduced performance, the damage may already be done.

In a recent survey led by Rafanello, a striking 81% of participants agreed that corporate therapy notably enhanced their workplace concentration and productivity. To prevent burnout and promote mental well-being, companies must prioritize early intervention and support. This includes regular check-ins with employees, fostering open communication channels, and providing access to mental health resources such as counseling and stress management programs.

By addressing these critical mistakes and prioritizing mental health in the workplace, companies can create environments where employees feel valued, supported, and empowered to thrive. In doing so, they not only safeguard the well-being of their workforce but also drive sustainable business success in the long term. Happy Box stands ready to illuminate the path to workplace well-being, one thoughtful gesture at a time.

The American Institute of Stress, Workplace Stress
SaaS BPM, Happy Employee Statistics 2023

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