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  1. Blog
  2. Employer Resources
  3. June 30, 2021

The One Wellness Benefit Your Employees Want Most

10 ways to start providing it to them ASAP

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Photo courtesy of Ümit Bulut
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Update: You’re burned out.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at our latest poll. 

We surveyed more than 2,000 workers about the employer-provided wellness benefits they’d value most right now, and at 37 percent, the top choice was mental health resources, such as therapy stipends and coverage. These benefits overtook medical (19 percent), fitness (16 percent), team bonding (13 percent), self-care (10 percent), and nutrition (5 percent) offerings. That’s right, in the middle of a global pandemic, when only 55.4 percent of Americans have employer-provided health coverage, mental health benefits came in first. What gives?

Just sustained grief, uncertainty, overwork, stagnation, and feelings of emptiness. That’s all. In a culture already prone to burnout, we’re now stewing in a burnout slow cooker—or languishing in one, rather. In April, The New York Times used said term to describe the collective blah cast over the majority of us during this time, and it fits. Feeling joyless and aimless? Not quite depressed but also not thriving? You’re languishing, and maybe, just maybe, it’d be nice to talk to someone about how your emotional exhaustion and anxiety (hello, burnout) from the past year-plus is keeping you from doing even the most basic tasks. See again: our latest survey results.

Read more: 25 Tips for Dealing with Burnout

Interestingly, if you’re a man and you’re reading this, you’re likely not nodding your head as vigorously as the rest of our audience. Based on our survey results, the majority of men aren’t prioritizing employer-provided wellness benefits linked to their mental health. Fitness, team bonding, nutrition, and medical benefits all outpaced mental health, in that order. On the flip side, women and people who checked “self-describe” for their gender identity mark mental health as their number-one priority, especially the latter group. Sixty-seven percent of people in our self-describe category value mental health the most.

As an employer, this is all nice to know. But if you’re never provided such support before (or you’re languishing yourself, as we’ve already concluded), where do you begin? Here are 10 ways to kick-start your support of your employees’ mental health needs.

Read more: COVID-19: How to Avoid Burnout & Embrace Semi-Permanency

1. Therapy sessions

This is the central ask of our data. Offer to either pay for employees’ therapy sessions in full or to help reduce their copay. You can designate a certain number of sessions and even cover family members who need support.

2. Flexible scheduling 

Reduce stress where you can by shifting to a culture that values deliverables over time spent in the seat. This will help working parents, especially working moms, juggle having kids at home.

Read more: How to Set & Model Realistic Work-from-Home Expectations with Your Team

3. Speakers and webinars 

Plan enrichment events that pause the workday and allow team members to focus on their mental health. Roundtable sessions, speaker series, and even LinkedIn Learning sessions on meditation, enhancing resilience, and dealing with grief and loss are excellent ways to talk feelings at work.

4. Training

Schedule leadership training to normalize mental health and teach managers how to deal with mental health issues on their teams. Consider resilience training for everyone to reduce stress and anxiety and foster a more positive outlook about the future.

Read more: Ask a Recruiter: I Want to Support My Employees’ Mental Health. How Do I Do That Inclusively?

5. Discussion groups

Like employee resource groups, mental health support groups or virtual chats at work can be a productive way for employees to feel validated and seen. Start a Slack channel or group meetups for those feeling the strain during the pandemic. 

6. App and mental health platform subscriptions 

Calm, Headspace, Waking Up, MoodKit, Happify, Daylight, and Sleepio are all examples of apps meant to aid in mental health support. Pay for subscriptions for your team members.

7. Yoga and guided meditation courses

Mix physical and mental wellness by providing yoga and guided meditation courses once or twice a month. 

Read more: 6 Ways to Care for Mental & Emotional Health During the Coronavirus Outbreak

8. Time off

Parental leave, mental health days, and paid time off aren’t just for new babies, vacations, and crises. Encourage team members to take time off, or designate wellness days, like one Friday a month when the entire company jettisons, meeting-free Mondays to get the week started right, or additional days off every quarter just because life is hard right now. 

9. Child care support

Indirectly support parental mental health by removing a major stressor: their second job. Child care stipends and coverage at this time can lighten the load for working parents, especially moms.

10. Lighthearted team gatherings 

Be playful. Laugh. For remote teams, plan virtual pet parties, art shows, bracket competitions, and goofy gatherings that distract from everything that’s bringing people down. Check out the ones InHerSight has hosted here.

Read more: Use These 5 Thoughtful Tactics to Manage Team Burnout

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Beth Castle

Managing Editor, InHerSight

Beth Castle is on staff at InHerSight, where she writes about workplace rights, diversity and inclusion, allyship, and feminism. Her bylines include Fast Company, Charlotte magazine, The Charlotte Observer, SouthPark magazine, Southbound magazine, and Atlanta magazine. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

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