How Headspace Health see
the future of Workplace
Headspace, the leading global mental health and wellness app, has published its fifth annual report on changing workforce attitudes toward mental health and more people are talking about mental health and using available support than ever before.
Feature with HYER NEWSROOM
The Future of Workplace Mental Health
The report, which is based on data from over 400 CEOs and 4,000 workers across the U.S., Australia, Germany, and the U.K., highlights the substantial progress made in recognising and addressing mental health in the workspace, particularly amidst the COVID-19 pandemic-induced shift to remote work. It shows how CEOs and employees are continuing to acknowledge the critical role of mental health in performance and productivity, leading to a greater uptake in mental health benefits. However, the report also stresses the escalating pressure on mental health and HR teams as they navigate global uncertainties, including economic instability, conflict, social inequities, and workplace issues like layoffs.
Here we explore the main findings of the report, and look at Headspaces’ recommendations to cultivate a supportive and transparent work environment that ultimately results in a more effective workforce.
1. Instability, productivity pressure, and rising expectations for all are driving a sense of dread in the workplace.
> 87% of employees say they feel a sense of dread at least once a month, with nearly half (49%) saying they feel a sense of dread at least once a week - interestingly this sense of dread is increased in leaders with 55% of executive-level employees and 59% of CEOs feeling dread at least once a week.
> The biggest drivers of this sense of dread include lack of stability (45%), overwhelming expectations (42%), increased responsibility (45%), and fear of being laid off (28%). 38% of employees are concerned about the impact of technology on their role.
> The report shows that managers play a massive role, both positively and negatively, in mental health at work.
> Negative outcomes are mainly impacted by lack of respect for working hours (42%), lack of understanding for life outside of work (40%), unequal treatment of team members (39%) and setting unsustainable workloads (38%)
> Positive outcomes are mainly impacted by flexibility to accommodate personal issues (50%), assistance with benefits (44%), encouraging ambition (42%) mentorship (41%) and creating moments of fun (38%)
> Clearly outline responsibilities and allow for flexibility to create a more positive work environment.
> Consistently communicate “The Why” behind the work that you do to support your employee’s commitment to the mission through ongoing communication.
> Practice “Ruthless Prioritization.” In challenging the value of each initiative, you reset the workload with clearer intention for you and your team.
> Only invest time and energy into actions that are in your personal control as a leader. Recognise your team’s achievements and make time to celebrate the wins, both big and small.
> Make sure you practice self compassion as in order to best support others, you must first start with yourself
2. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging efforts benefit the entire workforce,
> Over half of employees (54%) say their employer’s DE&I policy has a positive impact on their mental health
> DEIB efforts can better equip organisations to respond to global events and provide employee support, with 97% of employees saying global events negatively impact their mental health at work.
> Global factors that impact emotional wellbeing at work include - economic uncertainty (40%) political uncertainty (31%) inequities in race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity (31%), increase in violence or threats (31%) COVID-19 (29%) Climate change (28%)
> Train managers on how to talk about race and other aspects of identity in the workplace.
>Address key challenges to DEIB policies head on to ensure that your DEIB priorities are mapped to positive outcome
>Consider how accessible your meetings are to those with disabilities.
> DEIB should be used as a guide for content creation, not an afterthought.
> Adopt a “Care, Act, Educate” framework to support employees who may be differentially affected by identity based traumatic events:
Care: How can we care for employees who are the most impacted and/or most vulnerable at this moment?
Act: How can we take supportive action as an organisation?
Educate: How can we use our platform as leaders to educate lesser-impacted team members on how and why the issue is impacting marginalised communities?
3. Check-in on HR Leaders
> HR teams are under increasing pressure to support employees whilst maintaining their own workload.
> HR leaders report the biggest drivers of dread at work are burnout from emotional caregiving for employees (36%) and feeling overwhelmed by the expectations to take on more job responsibilities (36%).
> 94% of HR leaders feel an increasing responsibility to improve company culture by supporting employee mental health.
>HR leaders use mental health benefits less than any other group surveyed. Only 41% of HR leaders use mental health benefits regularly, compared to 64% of CEOs and 73% of employees.
> Encourage HR leaders to put their “own oxygen mask on first.
>To help combat the rising burnout of HR leaders, make sure that you proactively check in with them on a regular basis.
>To ensure you are providing your HR leaders with the opportunity for growth, set up dedicated time, within working hours, for leadership & development.
> To help overcome ‘compassion fatigue,’ HR leaders should consider setting a boundary statement such as ‘not my experience, their experience’ whilst navigating emotionally heavy conversations
4. CEOS feeling the pressure
> CEOs are challenged to ensure they’re leading with authenticity, while also inspiring hope
> 49% of CEOs feel that when communicating with employees, it’s most important to be positive for the team
> Only 33% of CEOs feel that it’s important to tell employees the truth when it may be hard to hear, leaving employees confused and stressed. Employees are seeking transparency and assurance that their employer is taking steps to prepare their company for future challenges while protecting employees.
> 75% of employees worry their company will cut back on mental health support and benefits if there is a recession whereas 64% of CEOs say they would increase mental health benefits in a recession.
> Bring awareness to how you show up for others. Figuring out what feels most natural to you as a leader, to be both vulnerable and authentic, is key.
> Before meeting with your team, set a “to be” list to get intentional about how you want to communicate. EG“I want to be clear, compassionate, and direct”
>Set ‘methodological goals’ as a company. To help your company work toward your measurable goals, like revenue or retention, support your team in how they approach reaching those goals, especially during more stressful times.
>Create an open space to talk about the state of the business.
5. Closing the gap between CEO and employee sentiments around mental health
>91% of CEOs and 89% of employees agree that their company sufficiently supports the mental health of its employees compared to 94% and 67% (respectively) in 2022.
> 87% of CEOs have talked to their staff or employees about their own mental health, a significant jump from 79% that did the same in 2022.
>76% of employees say they appreciate it when leaders discuss emotional and mental health
> 92% of CEOs say they model best practices of how to care for mental health to their employees, and 64% regularly take advantage of mental health benefits.
> 54% of CEOS believe it is important for companies to do more to support employee mental health
> Be honest and authentic when discussing mental health.
> Lead by example.
> Approach mental health support like taking a vitamin, versus an aspirin. Ongoing, consistent support will better equip employees to cope through more challenging times.
“People leaders are exhausted, with many of us asking – ‘How do we sustain ourselves amidst all this uncertainty and change while continuing to create stability for others?’ We owe it to ourselves, and our teams, to carve out time each and every day to take care of ourselves first and foremost.”
— Désirée Pascual - CHIEF PEOPLE OFFICER, HEADSPACE
This years’ report paints a promising picture for the future. More people are talking about mental health and using available support in the workplace which creates a healthier, happier environment.
The report also shows us that it's important to stay flexible and adjust our mental health strategies to keep up with daily stressors, economic challenges and global events. It is a great source for leaders to take simple, actionable steps and proves that if leaders continue to set a positive example, and encourage open chats around mental health, the workplace can continue to evolve into a positive place of inspiration and productivity.