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Support Employee Mental Health with Leave Programs

May 17, 2022 Woman employee stressed

It wasn’t just businesses closing, jobs being lost and hospitals overflowing. There were business owners whose lives were devastated, employees who lost their work buddies, and millions of people in isolation living with the constant fear of sickness.

Oftentimes we forget that the pandemic wasn’t just about the physical, tangible things that were happening. It was about the people it was happening to. A recent study showed 89% of professionals reported their mental health has been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

The past couple of years have been filled with stressors that have caused mental health to suffer and employee well-being to plummet to an all time low. Yet the effects of the pandemic have also opened up the conversation around the need for mental health resources, and companies are responding by investing in programs that support their employees.

Employees Need Well-Being Support

Time off consistently ranks among the leading benefits that support employee well-being. Employees have identified well-being and leave programs as the primary benefits to ease their stress and improve their welfare during tumultuous times, according to Metlife’s Employee Benefits Trends survey.

Consequently, job candidates are looking for companies which place a high emphasis on employee wellness and companies are taking note.

Taking Time Off Improves Mental Health

A number of studies have shown that taking time away from work can have both physical and psychological health benefits and companies are taking notice and implementing changes to improve their mental health offerings. Some are offering extra company-wide days off to help employees reset and refresh while adjusting to life’s new normal. Others are making more extensive enhancements to leave programs that reflex their employee-centric culture and have potentially larger impacts, such as unlimited paid time off policies.

The 2021-22 Aflac WorkForces Report showed that personal mental health negatively affected the job performance of a third of the U.S. workforce over the past year. The survey results also showed about half of employees are experiencing some level of burnout: 34% of respondents reported their level of burnout to be “moderate” while 12% reported “high” and 6% “very high”.

And the employees facing burnout are simply looking for time away from work. Employees facing burnout rank two things (flexible scheduling and paid time off) ahead of EAPs, permanent remote work, mental health offerings and holistic wellness programs in combatting burnout.

Positive perceptions of paid leave are linked to employees’ belief that their employer cares for them. Unfortunately, just half of employees say taking personal time off is viewed as positive at work, and only 39% say taking a leave of absence is viewed positively.

Employees Need Better Mental Health and Leave Programs

Companies looking to overcome the negative impact of these recent economic times need to focus on driving positive outcomes. An emphasis on positive mental health is the next frontier of the American workplace, and employees want their company to address it. 86% of jobseekers think its important for a company’s culture to support mental health, according to Mind Share Partners’ Mental Health at Work Report. In taking a strategic approach to employee well-being combined with a generous time off program, companies can combat the current mental health issues facing employees.  

Not sure how to get started? Reach out to your Hylant representative for information on Health Strategies and/or Leave Programs. Don’t have one? Contact us here.

The above information does not constitute advice. Always contact your employee benefits broker or trusted adviser for insurance-related questions.