And Why Mental Health Benefits Should Matter To Employers As Well
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so dedicating this month’s article to why mental health benefits matter seems like a natural choice. For California employees dealing with the stressors of everyday life, caring for their emotional and psychological well-being is as much a priority as caring for their physical health. Suffering from anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues can be as debilitating as any physical injury or illness – especially since these conditions are “silent” and can go unnoticed by outsiders.
When employees struggle with such problems, having the right resources and support available through their health insurance benefits and their employer’s other programs and efforts can make all the difference.
For California employers, mental health benefits matter because employees who don’t get the care and help they need are far less likely to perform at their best. And mental and physical health issues in employees results in lost productivity and higher employee turnover.
Mental health-related issues account for half of the top ten causes of disability globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). This leads to a loss of productivity that is worth around $1 trillion annually for businesses and the global economy.
Younger Workers Want – And Expect – Good Mental Health Benefits
If you want to know why mental health benefits matter so much, ask the latest generations to enter the workforce. According to a recent study by Securian Financial, 65% of Gen Z workers and 60% of Millennial workers said their employers providing robust mental wellness benefits was “very important.” Less than half of their Gen X and Baby Boomer elders felt the same.
Because they recognize how vital mental health benefits are, these younger workers consider the availability of such benefits when evaluating job opportunities. A 2021 study from the management consulting firm McKinsey found that most Gen Z employees factor mental health resources into their decision-making when choosing an employer. Not only do mental health benefits matter in attracting top talent, but they also are crucial for employee retention – 57% of Gen Z’ers say they’re essential when deciding whether to stay in their current position.
A Mentally Healthy Workplace Requires More Than Just Insurance
The mental health benefits provided by your company’s group health insurance plan are, of course, critical to maintaining a mentally healthy workforce. Coverage should include such care as therapy, medication, substance abuse assistance, and in-patient treatment if needed.
But as important as access to these professional resources is to employees’ mental health, insurance coverage is not the only way employers can and should support their psychological and emotional wellness. Creating a mentally healthy workplace can be the most effective way to reduce stress, burnout, and other problems.
The WHO identified several workplace factors that have a negative effect on employees’ mental well-being, including:
- Inadequate health and safety policies;
- Lack of management skills and poor communication practices;
- Limited control over one’s work and few opportunities to participate in decision-making;
- Minimal or non-existent levels of support for employees;
- A lack of social support or team cohesion;
- A lack of flexibility in working hours, remote work, or flex-time;
- Bullying and harassment; and
- Unclear job responsibilities or organizational objectives.
How California Employers Can Support The Mental Health of Employees
In California, employers can promote good mental health at work by showing respect, encouraging participation, offering autonomy and providing support. To create a positive workplace environment, businesses can modify their current policies and mental health benefits. Consider implementing some or all of these adjustments.
- Establish flexible work scheduling, flex time, and other policies that help employees manage their demands in and out of work.
- Provide employees with chances for ongoing professional education, skills enhancement, and leadership coaching.
- Ensure your group health insurance plans covers stress management, smoking cessation, and weight loss programs, all of which can enhance an employee’s mindset and attitude.
- Recognize and reward employees both financially and otherwise with performance-based bonuses and pay raises, profit-sharing, and employee awards programs. Even a simple “Thanks” or “Keep up the good work” can go a long way.
- Create employee assistance programs and provide easy access to mental health benefits.
- Clarify with employees that there is no stigma or negative consequences for seeking help.
- Provide time management and stress management courses.
- Plan fun and stress-relieving activities or outings.
- Encourage employees to get enough sleep.
- Educate employees about harmful (and often illegal) workplace conduct, such as discrimination, harassment, and bullying, and implement robust policies to address such behavior and help victimized employees.
Employee Health and Employee Healthcare Work Hand-In-Hand. We Can Help.
Preferred Insurance is committed to improving the physical and mental health of California workers. We know a healthy workforce not only benefits the workers themselves but also improves the profits of their employers. As a skilled California group health insurance broker, we assist small business owners in understanding the complex world of group health insurance coverage. To discuss your small business insurance requirements, contact us to schedule your free consultation.