Over the last year or so, the COVID-19 pandemic, the ‘Great Resignation’ and Quiet Quitting have all highlighted an undeniable truth: Mental health matters.
And if you’re like many HR pros looking to recruit and retain top talent, consider this: 81% of workers said that “employers’ support for mental health will be an important consideration when they look for work in the future,” according to a recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association.
Here’s the good news: The U.S. Surgeon General released new guidance to help companies provide much-needed mental health support to employees.
Mental health matters
In Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being, the Surgeon General created a “framework” that outlines five “essentials” to promote workers’ mental health and well-being.
Each “essential” aims to meet two human needs. And the framework offers concrete action steps to support each essential goal:
- Protection from harm (to meet safety and security needs). Prioritize workplace physical and psychological safety. Enable adequate rest. Normalize and support mental health. Operationalize DEI norms, policies, and programs.
- Connection and community (to meet needs of social support and belonging). Create cultures of inclusion and belonging. Cultivate trusted relationships. Foster collaboration and teamwork.
- Work-life harmony (to meet needs for autonomy and flexibility). Provide more autonomy over how work is done. Make schedules as flexible and predictable as possible. Increase access to paid leave. Respect boundaries between work and non-work time.
- Mattering at work (to meet needs of dignity and meaning). Provide a living wage. Engage workers in workplace decisions. Build a culture of gratitude and recognition. Connect individual work with organizational mission.
- Opportunity for growth (to meet learning and accomplishment needs). Offer quality training, education, and mentoring. Foster clear, equitable pathways for career advancement. Ensure relevant, reciprocal feedback.
More mental health help
The Surgeon General’s framework comes on the heels of similar guidance released from the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). In its National Plan for Health Workforce Well-Being, the NAM lists seven priorities:
- Create and sustain positive work and learning environments and culture
- Invest in measurement, assessment, strategies and research
- Support mental health and reduce stigma
- Address compliance, regulatory and policy barriers for daily work
- Engage effective technology tools
- Institutionalize well-being as a long-term value, and
- Recruit and retain a diverse and inclusive health workforce.