Can These Mental Health Benefits Boost Employee Retention?
Workers are continuing to quit at record levels. And one of the top reasons employees give for leaving their jobs is lack of support for their health and well-being, according to a recent McKinsey study.
What can businesses do in response? What follows are some of the benefits companies now offer to support their workers’ mental health and better retain their talent.
Meditation subscriptions are one of the most popular mental health benefits now being offered by employers, as they are low-cost, yet backed by science and are simple to integrate within an organization’s current benefits package. Headspace and Calm are two of the biggest players in the enterprise meditation app market aiming to reduce stress and support employee mental health.
Some companies, like Justworks, now supply all workers with a paid subscription to Headspace as part of their benefits package, according to Jen Fox, the company’s director of people experience. She said Justworks also often uses Headspace to open their weekly all-hands meetings too.
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Mental Health Therapy and Professional Coaching Are on the Rise
In addition to meditation subscriptions, companies are investing in professional mental health therapy and coaching for their workers.
Subscription management provider Ordergroove began partnering with a coaching service in 2020 to provide its employees with no-cost sessions said Chief People Officer Karen Weeks. "These sessions can be focused on whatever the team member needs, from professional development to stress management and burnout or other personal goals."
HackerRank offers similar services via an on-demand mental health system partnership, according to Dara Newman, a senior manager of people at the company. Employees have access to guidance, therapy and medication support from professional coaches, licensed therapists and psychiatrists.
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Employers are also recognizing the impact that workplace culture has on employee mental health and making changes accordingly.
Earlier this year, Ordergroove launched Focus Fridays, a day without any recurring internal meetings, as an opportunity for employees to end their workweeks on a high note. “That may be for thinking/brainstorming time, planning for the following week, time to get stuff done and off their plate, or time away from their screens and be off zoom,” said Weeks.
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Newman spoke to the significance of the remote-first culture at HackerRank. “It's not about when or where you work, it's about the impact and contribution you make for the team and our customers,” she said. “We trust our workforce to take the time they need, while delivering on their goals and projects.”
Positive change is also coming from employees themselves. Justworks recently launched a new employee resource group (ERG) called JustAbility. “The group is striving to create an anti-ableist culture where all people with differences in ability and thinking thrive and are able to succeed in a supportive environment. The ERG focuses on disability, neurodivergence, and mental health,” said Fox.
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Uninterrupted Time Off
Companies are providing additional time off to combat post-pandemic burnout and boost employee morale. Importantly, employers are providing all workers this time to let staff get up to speed and avoid returning to an overflowing email inbox.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, HackerRank began offering employees an annual company-wide paid week off. Newman explained that it’s helpful that all employees have the the same break. “Our employees can truly unplug and enjoy their precious time off,” she said. “There was zero anxiety in returning and little to no emails to catch up on.” HackerRack also offers unlimited paid time off, according to Newman.
Similarly, after the start of COVID, Justworks introduced twice-yearly Oxygen Days for employees, which Fox emphasized came about from a grassroots effort at the company. “Employees receive a paid day off with a $50 stipend to do whatever it is that fills their bucket,” she shared. “Seeing photos of how employees spend their time and money is encouraging to others and gives express permission to step away from work.”
“The program is modeled after the idea of putting your own oxygen mask on first,” she said, and it seems to have paid off. According to Fox, Justworks’s retention rates have increased over the last 12 months.
Keep in mind that this list is just a start. Use these examples as a jumping off point as you assess and reimagine your organization’s approach to employee mental health and retention during these challenge times. You’ve got this.
About the Author
Dr. Kyle Elliott, MPA, CHES (he/him/his) is the founder, career coach and executive coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com.