Employers expected to increase focus on employee mental health and wellbeing in coming years

Sixty-seven percent of employers surveyed are planning to make employee mental health and emotional wellbeing programs one of their top three priorities over the next three years.

By Ragan Staff      
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Sixty-seven percent of employers are planning to make employee mental health and emotional wellbeing programs one of their top three priorities over the next three years according to a survey from WTW. While a number of those surveyed also intend to offer more mental health days, potentially tripling from 9% to 30% in two years’ time.

“COVID-19 took a terrible toll on employees’ lives, including substantially worsening mental health,” Erin Terkoski Young, senior director for WTW’s Health, Equity & Wellbeing practice said in a press release. “Although the pandemic may have started to wane, mental health challenges persist. Taking mental health programs to the next level won’t be easy, but employers that succeed will see improvement in productivity, retention and engagement.”

The survey included 455 U.S. employers responding on the emotional wellbeing strategies they have in place or are planning/considering deploying over the next three years. Some interesting data points from the survey include:

  • Nearly all survey respondents (88%) took measures to address workforce mental health needs this year.
  • More than four in 10 employers (44%) currently provide manager training, such as general mental health awareness or identification and intervention training. Another 30% are planning or considering this training in the next two years.
  • Nearly four in 10 employers (38%) are partnering with employee resource groups to address population-specific mental health issues. Another 27% are planning or considering doing so.
  • Two-thirds of employers (68%) currently offer digital behavioral health support. An additional 16% are planning or considering providing access to digital behavioral health support in the next two years.
  • One in six employers (17%) are evaluating cultural competencies within the behavioral health provider network. Another 27% are planning or considering doing so.

Employee assistance programs (EAPs) are also a big part of employers’ wellbeing offerings. Almost all responding organizations offer traditional EAPs with 69% of those surveyed providing dedicated onsite or virtual EAP resources. Additionally, 24% of these organizations plan to increase their EAP benefits over the next three years.

“Employers are highly focused on supporting the mental health of their employees, especially as they look to retain and engage talent,” Young continued in the press release. “Those that prioritize employee mental health and increase access to virtual and digital solutions will be uniquely positioned to improve their ability to deliver much-needed care.”