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4 Strategies Used By Top Employers To Support Their Employees’ Mental Health


We just wrapped a webinar, Mental Health: Bracing for the Next Pandemic. The pandemic we addressed, incidentally, is what many are expecting to be a surge in issues like anxiety, depression, and substance abuse related to the collective trauma of the past 18+ months. Towards the end of discussion, after unpacking the stats and trends around mental health and its impact on the workforce, we shared with participants the 4 key strategies Grokker’s clients are using to support their employees’ mental health — and the advice was met with such enthusiasm from the HR professionals and company leaders at the live event that we decided to share the highlights here!

1. Addressing Stigma

Stigma prevents people from seeking the care they need, so it's critical for employers to reduce negative attitudes about mental health in the workplace and help employees feel better about using the resources at their fingertips. Leading employers are finding success with:

  • Running multi-channel anti-stigma campaigns that encourage employees at all levels to share their stories and feel more comfortable accessing mental health resources

  • Taking a “circular approach” that nestles mental health resources within those of other wellbeing areas, such as sleep or financial wellness

  • Arming managers with tools like discussion guides that help build psychological safety

“It’s difficult to get adoption with a head-on approach. Take the side door through the financial wellbeing or physical health angle. A lot of times people aren’t even aware that they’re having the issues and there’s a lot of stigma associated with it.” — Fortune 50 Company


2. Lowering Barriers

It’s challenging to raise awareness of benefits, let alone get people to engage with them — especially with stigmas standing in the way. But in order for people to make the most of the benefits and resources available to them, those benefits and resources have to be easy to find and easy to use. Leading employers are finding success with:

  • Streamlining digital navigation by putting resources in one place, reducing clicks, using clear language, and navigating to 3rd party (community) resources

  • Bringing in speakers to do live sessions on mental health 

  • Promoting telehealth and other virtual, on-demand resources 

  • Introducing resources to employees’ family members via home mailers 

  • Using wellbeing programs that make participation easy and rewarding 

  • Empowering managers with ideas to help engage their team in short wellbeing breaks during the work day

“We keep getting asked, ‘How do I access all the resources you’re giving us if I don’t have the time to do it?’ So one of the creative things we’re trying to do is asking managers to give people just a few minutes to reset, using the concept of microsteps and doing small things that are too small to fail. If we can get a leader to embrace that and help our employees feel like they’re supported, then maybe that will exponentially help them.” — Fortune 5 Company (retailer/healthcare)


3. Optimizing Communication

At a time when people are overwhelmed and already receive so much (too much?) information, it’s essential to find what works best for your workforce, which might be an ever-moving target. Stay curious and experiment. Leading employers are finding success with:

  • Positioning wellbeing as whole-person, as all aspects of wellbeing (i.e., physical, mental, nutritional, sleep, finances) are interconnected; self-care in one area usually helps people feel better in other areas (like mental health!) 

  • Using verbiage that connects with people (e.g.; instead of saying “EAP,” say “do you need help?”)

  • Communicating with employees over a wide variety of channels to increase reach, boost awareness, and promote engagement at the time of need

  • Asking employees how they want to be communicated with and how they prefer to access resources — and then deliver

  • Customizing messages as needed to reach and resonate with particular employee groups 

“With the age range and diversity of our workforce and how they digest information, there’s just not one bullet that works. Some people use social feed, others go to email, others read digital displays, home mailers work for others, and word-of-mouth might be the approach for others.” — Fortune 50 Company


4. Empowering/Engaging Leaders

Managers are at the front-lines with employees — in the perfect position to offer personal support that makes a difference. Leading employers are finding success with:

  • Promoting an empathetic leadership style in which they lead by example, listen actively, “parent out loud,” participate in wellbeing initiatives alongside teams, etc.

  • Encouraging one-on-one, personal check-ins with employees

  • Providing mental health education to help managers identify the signs of stress and burnout, have meaningful conversations, and offer applicable resources 

  • Creating mental health discussion guides for managers to get them comfortable with what to say and what to ask when talking with employees who need support (especially those who may be afraid to ask for it!)

  • Simplifying communications that break through to busy professionals with competing priorities — supporting employees’ mental health is only one key initiative 

“[Our employees] really just want leaders to be empathetic and flexible and understanding! And it goes a long way.” — Fortune 5 Company (retailer/healthcare)


Want to learn more? Get the details by downloading the webinar replay!




Caring For Remote Employees

Many organizations continue to work in remote and hybrid models as the pandemic winds down, but many employees, when given the option to return to work, would actually prefer to continue working remotely. Our new guide, Taking Care of Remote Employees: The Key To Business Success Beyond the Pandemic, gives you actionable steps to ensure that your employees feel supported no matter where they are working. 

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