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Bad Timing: Companies Reducing Mental Health Services
Joyce L. Gioia, CMC, CSP --  The Herman Group Joyce L. Gioia, CMC, CSP -- The Herman Group
Austin, TX
Wednesday, June 1, 2022


The Herman Trend Alert

June 1, 2022

Bad Timing: Companies Reducing Mental Health Services

Although post-Covid-19, most employers focused on supporting their workers' mental health services, now those same employers are cutting back on those expenditures. We have all heard the expression, "We may be through with Covid, but Covid is not through with us." Sadly, regarding mental health, there is a similar set of circumstances happening. Employees at all levels are still suffering from mental health issues and these reductions are already resulting in some serious unintended consequences, including higher absenteeism and lower productivity. This Alert details the seriousness of this global situation and drives home the need for refocusing on mental health.

The Dire Situation

A global survey by Headspace Health, a digital mental health platform best known for its meditation app, details the magnitude of this issue. Post-Covid, 71 percent of workers said their companies increased the focus on mental health. However, only 25 percent said their companies have maintained that focus in the last year. The effect that this cut back has had is significant: 83 percent of CEOs and 70 percent of employees reported missing at least one day of work due to stress, burnout, and mental health challenges. To make matters worse, the difficulty that companies are having filling their roles means that getting the job done falls on the plates of those who are left. . . and that is leading to breakdown, absenteeism, and mental health issues.

The Disconnect between Perceptions of CEOs and their Employees

Sadly, there is a gap between what leaders believe and what is in the hearts and minds of their employees. A whopping 94 percent of CEOs think they are adequately supporting workplace mental health, yet only 67 percent of employees feel the same way.

Some Employees Believe Work is Harmful to their Mental Health

A study in the British medical journal Lancet estimates that in 2020, the global pandemic led to 53 million additional cases of major depressive disorders and 76 million additional cases of anxiety disorders. The Headspace Report revealed that almost one-third (30 percent) of employees feel work actually hurts their mental health.

One Company that Acted

Shortly before the pandemic, the toy giant Mattel began working with Headspace to provide relief for their workers. Their annual survey of employees had shown that though (or perhaps because?) the company was in the middle of a turnaround, stress and burnout were appearing as challenges for its employees. They gave their employees new tools for managing stress and the app gave them meditation, sleep, and movement offerings that were easy to use and helped build resilience. Once the lockdown was in place, Mattel began offering live guided meditations---in some cases led by senior leaders. The company also offered webinars for managers aimed at preventing burnout among their staff---including how to recognize warning signs among their workers. Mattel executives knew that if they did not act, they were going to lose people.

A Handful of CEOs Really Get It

One of the positive points of the survey was the degree to which chief executives recognized the importance of mental health benefits, not only for their workforce but for themselves as well. Of the CEOs surveyed, 60 percent said they personally use their company's mental health benefits regularly. Moreover, almost as many said talking about their mental health issues made them "better leaders." The movement is that now mental health and ensuring employee wellbeing has shifted from being just the responsibility of human resources to being the charge of leaders at all levels. Like Howard Schultz former CEO of Starbucks, Patrick Manzo, CEO of employee experience platform Kazoo, understands the importance of modeling behaviors for his senior leaders. In Manzo's case, he is talking about the ways he addresses wellbeing. He is also open and vulnerable in his willingness to admit mistakes. He's right when he says, "People don't want to be led by robots."

Employer Indifference Fueling the Great Resignation

Cutting back on mental health or any benefits for that matter right now is very risky. This post-pandemic period is a time when companies should be expanding benefits, not reducing them---that is, if they want to successfully compete for people. With the job hopping that is taking place and the importance of retaining long tenured employees, it would not be wise for companies to be scaling back on support of any kind. The unintended consequences in the form of employee turnover could be devastating to a company's bottom line.

Special thanks to Susan Caminiti and CNBC.com for their coverage of this critical topic. Go to https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/companies-are-pulling-back-on-mental-health-offerings-just-when-workers-need-them-most/ar-AAX7v9M to read the entire article.

Next Week's Herman Trend Alert: The New Truth Behind Some Supply Chain Issues

In my new book Experience Rules, I raved about my local premium supermarket. HEB is a well respected grocery chain in five of the United States and in Mexico. Characterized by low employee turnover, the service levels at this chain are very high. That is why I was so surprised that there have been so many empty shelves when I went to shop recently. I had not seen that level of supply chain issues in months. Last week, I spoke with the manager and what I discovered blew me away! It is not mostly the logistics that had been responsible for the empty shelves. This cause is entirely something else. For the answer, you will have to wait for next week's Alert.



INGOMU's podcast, The Future of Life, Work, and Wellness is now on the Futures Television channel on Roku.tv. Each show closes with a special commentary from our author Joyce about what the interview insights mean for the future. Tune in on Thursdays at 6 pm EDT.



Sponsored by The Association of Professional Futurists, EXPLORING NEXT: The Futures of Human Experience: People, Places, Systems, and Things will be an important gathering for people interested in the future. With Peter Schwartz of Salesforce delivering the opening keynote live, the conference will feature recognized speakers from around the world, including our own Joyce Gioia whose topic on the 21st is "How Experience will Transform Organizations." More details coming soon.

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Name: Joyce L. Gioia, CMC, CSP
Title: Certified Speaking Professional and Management Consultant
Group: The Herman Group
Dateline: Austin, TX United States
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