Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
A couple of years ago, I shared Dan Schawbel’s book “Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation”. The book talks about how technology can be a contributing factor to loneliness as well as the impact that loneliness has on our work. It’s a great read especially as organizations are thinking about onsite, remote, and hybrid working arrangements.
Loneliness doesn’t just have a negative impact on our work. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have shared information connecting loneliness to serious health conditions and offered some resources to help individuals who want to seek help.
One of the things that I believe it’s important to understand is there’s a difference between loneliness and being alone. Individuals can feel incredibly lonely and be surrounded by people all the time. Loneliness is about connection and a lack of connection can impact our mental health.
The reason that I’m bringing up loneliness is because the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently released the results of a survey about mental health. It’s a part of their “Mental Health in America: A 2022 Workplace Report”. The survey of HR professionals indicated that:
- 72% believe that offering mental health benefits would attract new talent.
- 88% said that offering mental health resources can increase productivity.
- 86% believe that offering mental health resources would increase retention.
- 78% felt that offering mental health resources would boost organizational return on investment (ROI).
I think this is a pretty compelling survey. A clear majority of HR professionals believe that mental health benefits are important. And they are important at multiple phases of the employee experience – hiring, engagement, and retention.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve heard more than one person say, “I knew mental health was important, but I didn’t realize how much until we started dealing with the pandemic.” I completely understand where that comment is coming from. Organizations have an opportunity to do something about it.
There’s one other aspect of offering mental health benefits that I believe organizations should be prepared to address. And that’s the mental health of their leadership and management teams. There’s a huge amount of pressure on HR professionals and operational managers right now. Organizations need to make sure that the pressure is manageable.
I’m not talking about a couple of rough days and doing some retail therapy in the name of self-care. Organizations really need to make sure their employees are in a good place. Because if managers and HR don’t feel like they can take care of themselves, how are they going to take care of the rest of the team?
I don’t have all the answers here. But I do know that as organizations are thinking about their future, they need to consider the mental health of their workforce. It’s important to everyone. Offering benefits in this area will allow employees to access the resources they want and need.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Fort Lauderdale, FL19