Tuesday, October 25, 2022

The Surgeon General correctly wants you to focus on employee mental health

According to two recent surveys:
  • 76% of U.S. workers report at least one symptom of a mental health condition.
  • 84% of those reporting mental health symptoms believe their workplace is a contributing factor. 
  • 81% of employees will be looking for workplaces that support mental health in the future.
For these and many other reasons, including Covid-19 bringing the relationship between work and well-being into clearer focus,  Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. Surgeon General, has released a comprehensive report on workplace mental health and well-being.

This report focuses on five key areas in how employers can better support their employees' mental health.

/1/ Protection from Harm. Creating the conditions for physical and psychological safety is a critical foundation for ensuring workplace mental health and well-being. This Essential rests on two human needs: safety and security.

/2/ Connection and Community. Fostering positive social interactions and relationships in the workplace supports worker well-being. This Essential rests on two human needs: social support and belonging.

/3/ Work-Life Harmony. Professional and personal roles can together create work and non-work conflicts. The ability to integrate work and non-work demands, for all workers, rests on the human needs of autonomy and flexibility.

/4/ Mattering at Work. People want to know that they matter to those around them and that their work matters. Knowing you matter has been shown to lower stress, while feeling like you do not can raise the risk for depression. This Essential rests on the human needs of dignity and meaning.

/5/ Opportunity for Growth. When organizations create more opportunities for workers to accomplish goals based on their skills and growth, workers become more optimistic about their abilities and more enthusiastic about contributing to the organization. This Essential rests on the human needs of learning and a sense of accomplishment. 

According to Dr. Murthy, we must emphasize and prioritize "the connection between the well-being of workers and the health of organizations." He adds, "Sustainable change must be driven by committed leaders in continuous collaboration with the valued workers who power each workplace. The most important asset in any organization is its people." 

He's 100 percent correct. No matter what widget you produce or service you provide, you cannot do it without your employees, who are and will always be your most important asset. If they're struggling, your business is struggling. And trust me, they're struggling. Thus, it not only makes human sense to focus on your employees' mental health; it also makes business sense. 

You can download a copy of the Surgeon General's full report here, and you can listen to him discuss his report and its importance with John Moe on the Depresh Mode podcast.