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Put Mental Wellbeing at the Heart of the New Employee Experience

Content Contributed By: Unmind

It’s not news that COVID-19 has radically changed how work gets done and how employees interact with their organizations. What is striking is how these changes have coincided with the evolving demographics of the global workforce and, as a result, created the need for a fresh look at the employee experience. More specifically, as we expand on in our interactive e-book, The employee experience, mental health, and the post-Covid-19 workplace, it’s important to rethink, re-envision, and retool how organizations provide mental health support in the context of the employee experience.

Why? Because the pandemic posed new challenges to employee mental well-being, and employees are increasingly looking to their employers for support. These factors are making mental health a workplace priority — and that means it’s now an employee experience priority.

A study from Arizona State University found that 77% of employers feel employee mental health and well-being is now a top priority for their company. Taking a new approach to employee mental well-being will not only empower your employees to do their best work but set up your organization for success as the impact of the pandemic is expected to continue for years to come.

What is employee experience today – and how does it relate to mental health?

The employee experience starts when a person is first aware of your organization, even before they visit your website or apply for a job. It extends to the day they leave, and sometimes even beyond, through retiree benefits or ongoing personal relationships.

But there’s another aspect to the employee experience you may not have previously considered: What happens in employees’ lives outside of work directly impacts their job performance and how they feel about their work and their company. The June 2021 World Economic Forum Job Reset Summit concluded that “work-life balance, flexibility, and mental health are front of mind for employees as they look to their employers for certainty about the future.”

This is why employers who hope to see their people flourish need to have the desire and the tools to listen, understand, and act to ensure the company is genuinely prioritizing well-being and offering support for everyone, regardless of the state of their mental well-being and where they are in their journey with your organization. Here are some numbers that may help drive home that point:
  • Employers today are spending over $15,000 on average annually on each employee experiencing mental health issues, according to research from the National Safety Council and NORC at the University of Chicago.
  • Encouragingly, that same research found that employers reported a return of $4 for every dollar they invested in mental health treatment.
  • 79% of employees who rate their mental health as good are engaged vs. 47% of those who do not, according to 2021 research by MetLife.
3 ways to rethink your employee experience program with mental health wellness in mind
These steps can help you begin to incorporate mental health support within the key stages of the employee experience to help employees flourish.
  • First, as employees evolve and change in the face of this pandemic, so must organizations.
    Companies that want to show they care for their employees going forward will recognize that the pandemic knocked the traditional concept of employee health and wellness on its head. With 9 out of 10 companies stating that they had planned to invest more in employee mental health in 2021 and beyond, it is clear that employers are indeed recognizing this.
  • Secondly, open and transparent communication with staff will be increasingly important as organizations begin to navigate conversations around employee mental health. According to Gallup research, consistent, open communication – like holding regular one-on-one meetings with employees – can nearly triple engagement levels.
  • Thirdly, ensure that your workplace well-being and employee experience programs are accessible to all of your employees. Accessibility can simply mean ensuring all digital tools are accessible from all locations. It can also mean accommodating for disabilities (e.g., choosing colors that work for people with color blindness, or applying subtitles for people who are deaf).

The changing definition of mental health in the new world of employee mental well-being

As we’re understanding how very multifaceted the employee experience is, and as it’s become easier to talk about mental health problems, we’ve also shifted how to best think about employee mental health. It’s no longer about an employee having mental health problems or not. It’s a realization that it’s a bigger playing field. It’s about supporting people to flourish.

To nurture the entire employee experience in a post-COVID-19 world, organizations will want an employee mental health platform that uses well-being measurement data that can identify areas of mental health for employees to focus on. It will also help leaders make data-informed decisions about their mental health and well-being strategy. Finally, it will create targeted campaigns with engaging and effective communication.

More specifically, the optimal employee mental health solution will offer support at each stage of the employee journey by:
  • Promoting mental health and well-being resources and tools as part of the employee value proposition
  • Setting the tone for a positive and supportive working environment
  • Increasing the level of mental health literacy across your workforce, with mental health training that is flexible, meets the needs of your organization, and is available for every employee
  • Supporting employees to be their best selves and achieve their goals, personally and professionally
  • Helping leaders develop key skills to support employee mental well-being, such as active listening and empathy
  • Providing support for employee well-being through periods of change – at work and at home
  • Supporting employees when they reach the end of their career journey with your organization, so they can flourish in their next opportunity


If you enjoyed what you read here and want to learn more about any part of this article, dive into the full Unmind interactive e-book, The employee experience, mental health, and the post-Covid-19 workplace.