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Mental health in the workplace: How to leverage this talent retention trend and nurture your workers


More than 80% of Americans experience stress at least one day each week.[1] Furthermore, 57.8 million of them live with a mental illness.[2]

When employees struggle with mental health, it affects their performance and productivity. 

Engagement drops, and they’re more likely to leave their jobs, with more than one in four American workers leaving their jobs because of mental health.[3]

The importance of mental health in the workplace cannot be stressed enough. When your company supports mental health, candidates recognize you as a great employer that provides them with a great environment to work and thrive. 

It also helps improve your employee retention rate because you use candidate nurturing to show you care about your workers, eliminate mental health stigma and discrimination, and rely on objective methods, like talent assessments, to hire inclusive, qualified employees.

In this article, we help you follow this employee retention trend by equipping you with eight actionable tips on how to promote good mental health at work.

What is mental health in the workplace?

Mental health in the workplace is the collective contentment that enables workers to work resiliently, reach their potential, stay productive, and contribute to a positive and inclusive work environment.

When formulating talent retention strategies, you should always ensure they take your staff’s mental health into account. 

Mental health is a part of overall health and includes the ability to sustain meaningful and constructive relationships with coworkers and supervisors. 

When employees experience psychological safety at work, they can count on you to provide a supportive and inclusive environment, and you’re more likely to retain them for the long term.

Why is improving mental health at work important?

Improving mental health at work is an important employee retention trend that benefits workers and employers and prevents mental health discrimination at work.

The WHO estimates that 15% of working-age adults had a mental disorder in 2019.

Moreover, 82% of employees with mental health challenges indicated that their mental health affects their work and productivity.[4]

Improving mental health at work increases productivity and improves the overall performance and quality of work. 

It also keeps attendance consistent, reduces sick days, and reduces healthcare costs. The same study shows that, when receiving support, employees who experience depression miss fewer days per year from work as compared with those who don’t receive help.

Employees who feel that mental health support is inadequate can feel ignored and unaccepted. One in three employees feel they need more support from their employers regarding mental health.[5]

As such, providing employee wellbeing initiatives makes your employees feel accepted and included. They feel their employer cares about their wellbeing, which reduces their stress at work.

When work is less stressful and they feel supported, 74% of employees rate their mental health as good or excellent. They are also likely to share their experience online, which improves your corporate reputation

The benefits of supporting mental health in the workplace

Let’s look at the main advantages of mental health initiatives in building a healthy workplace.



Improves engagement and performance

- Employee engagement and performance decrease when employees’ confidence and self-esteem are low. 

- Disengaged employees cause lost productivity valued at $8.8tn, or 9% of the world’s GDP

- Supporting mental health reduces employees’ stress and eliminates the chances of non-work-related thoughts, like thoughts about health, finances, or relationships, affecting their work performance.

Decreases absenteeism

- When employees’ mental health is good, they take better care of their overall health, resulting in fewer sick days.[6]

- Mental health days in the workplace can encourage workers to prioritize their mental and physical health.

Increases retention

- More than 55% of employees say that if their employer supported their mental wellbeing, it would help them feel more loyal, be more productive, and take less time off work.[7]

- Support for mental health boosts your retention rates, enabling you to hang on to top talent.

Increases diversity and inclusivity

- Many marginalized groups face mental health issues. Supporting mental health fosters inclusivity.

- Half of LGBTIQ+ people experience depression, and three in five experience anxiety.[8]

- More than 15% of Black and Hispanic people reported mental illness in the past year.[9,10]

- By supporting mental health, you can promote diversity in the workplace and increase your productivity and employer branding.

8 best practices for improving mental health in the workplace and retaining your best performers

To improve mental health in the workplace, you must create a healthy workplace culture of care and inclusiveness.

Finding practical ways to make a difference can be challenging, even when you’re committed to supporting your employees’ mental wellbeing. 

Here are eight ways to use workplace mental health support to increase retention.

Best practices for improving mental health and worker retention

Best practice

How it helps

1. Hire and train managers to promote mental health

When managers understand available mental health benefits and receive training to support mental health, the outlook of the entire team improves

2. Use talent assessments to promote inclusivity, diversity, and psychological safety

Talent assessments enable you to hire the right person for the job, irrespective of their background or mental health issues

3. Give employees options for where and when they work

When they have flexible hours and remote work options, employees feel cared for as people, and working relationships improve

4. Include mental health resources in your benefit package

Mental health resources can reduce stress and make employees feel like they’re more than just a resource

5. Take away the mental health stigma

Talking openly about mental health destigmatizes it and prevents toxic behaviors at work

6. Be mindful of employee workloads

Developing clear job descriptions and metrics lets you understand whether employees are over- or underworked and address the issues

7. Ask for feedback

A good feedback plan and strategy enable you to measure the effect of your mental health initiatives and improve them

8. Monitor, measure, and analyze your efforts

Monitoring mental health initiatives lets you make data-driven changes to aspects of them that don’t work and add new initiatives

1. Hire and train managers to promote mental health

Managers play a critical role in supporting employee mental health. Even three hours of mental health awareness training can improve managers’ attitudes about mental health and motivate them to promote it at work.[11]

Using talent assessment enables you to hire empathetic managers. 

Before the onboarding process starts, you can use personality tests like the Enneagram test to verify they have soft skills like communication, perceptiveness, and fairness.

using the enneagram for hiring areas of insight graphic

Training managers to promote mental health enables them to lead by example.

You should train managers in skill sets that encourage positivity and create a safe environment for employees struggling with mental health. This creates a welcoming workplace environment that promotes trust in management decision-making and minimizes stress.

Give your managers the right employee coaching to offer all your available mental health programs and benefits to their employees. 

When they learn how to support their staff, managers are less likely to brush off employees who experience challenges at work or home. They can offer them actionable help to deal with stressors and check in on them when they seem off, improving the employee experience.

Leadership communication shifts from “We’re too busy to deal with this right now” or “What do you want me to do about it?” to “Let’s sit down and discuss this” or “I have resources that may help with your problem.”

2. Use talent assessments to promote inclusivity, diversity, and psychological safety

Talent assessments help you promote an inclusive workplace by increasing diversity and hiring the right people without considering their backgrounds.

On the other hand, discrimination worsens mental health. It can cause work avoidance, reluctance to disclose the condition to employers, stress, and a high employee turnover rate.[12]

Ensuring psychological safety at work promotes an inclusive culture, respect, integration, and full participation for all your employees.

Eliminating microaggressions and promoting accommodations to help improve mental health counters disengagement, feelings of isolation, dehumanization, and other negative mental health outcomes. 

It ensures employee engagement, attracts more talented individuals, and reduces employee attrition rates.

A toxic environment can happen when an asshole genius makes their way to the top of the chain of command or employees continuously compete for scarce resources. 

If you measure psychological safety, call out toxic behavior, and reward positive behavior, you can create a growth culture that thrives on trust and psychological safety.

3. Give employees options for where and when they work

Let employees pick their hours as much as possible and offer flexibility in the workplace.

A large part of anxiety and stress can be tied to commuting and balancing personal priorities like childcare and chronic health issues with work demands. 

When managers show understanding about employees’ competing personal commitments, it helps them feel included and cared for as people.

More than 60% of employees are more productive when working remotely, and more than 50% said they would accept a slight reduction in pay to be able to work remotely.

However, not all employees thrive when given the option of working from home. Some employees experience depression, anxiety, and other mental wellbeing issues when working remotely.

You can alleviate these issues by offering:

  1. A remote work policy

  2. Regular contact with teams

  3. Clear responsibilities and well-defined roles

  4. A clear career growth path

You should also encourage employees to find their best combination of remote and in-person work and flexible hours.

4. Include mental health resources in your benefit package

More than 75% of employees would change jobs to find more support for their wellbeing.[13]

Here are some examples of mental health resources you can provide to support employee retention: 

  1. Access to counseling services (in person and remotely)

  2. Therapy 

  3. Mental wellness apps

  4. Substance abuse recovery programs

  5. Mental health workshops and meditation and mindfulness sessions

  6. Stress management programs[14]

Mental health resources to support employee retention graphic

Offer an employee assistance program (EAP) that covers mental and physical health and other services, like financial planning and debt and student loan management, at no cost to your employees. 

An effective EAP can help workers better deal with interpersonal relationships, legal problems, and other issues that interfere with their wellbeing and work performance.

For example, Think Research, a healthcare delivery solutions company, worked hard to create the right environment to make employees feel comfortable accessing an EAP. The company held town halls and shared success stories to encourage employees to use the program.

When the program went live in April 2020, it was a resounding success. The business’s chief administrative officer said the employees gave the program more “accolades and gratitude” than any other benefit the company ever implemented.[15]

5. Destigmatize mental health in the workplace

Some of your employees might have experienced workplace trauma in previous roles because of a toxic culture that tolerated harassment and verbal abuse.

More than 70% of people experience trauma in the workplace.[16]

They can suffer from stress, burnout, imposter syndrome, flashbacks, and memory problems. 

Many workplaces still struggle with the stigma associated with mental health issues. Eight out of 10 workers with mental health conditions say shame and stigma prevent them from seeking mental care, and 40% give a false reason for the time they take off to deal with mental health issues.[17]

These situations persist because some workplaces still believe that mental health issues are a sign of weakness and an employee’s personal issue rather than something to be addressed and supported in the workplace.

Becoming a trauma-informed workplace can eliminate these issues, reduce mental health stigma, and promote inclusiveness. 

To do that:

  1. Talk about mental health during one on one meetings

  2. Encourage leaders to be open about their mental health to relate to their workforce

  3. Ask your employees what they need

  4. Help employees recovering from trauma with flexible schedules

  5. Help your employees to develop coping strategies

6. Be mindful of employee workloads

Employee burnout usually develops when employees have too much to do, cannot stay on top of their tasks, and feel that management is not receptive to or interested in accommodating their mental health concerns. 

According to an Asana survey, 71% of respondents had experienced burnout at least once in 2020. 

On the other hand, not getting enough hours at their primary job can hurt people when they have to work several part-time jobs to make ends meet.

In 2021, not getting enough hours and being overworked were two main reasons some individuals left their jobs.

Top reasons why US workers left a job in 2021 graphic

Develop clear job descriptions and metrics to understand whether employees are over or underworked.

Without clear documentation and an understanding of everyone’s roles and responsibilities, it is difficult to determine whether your employees can handle their workloads without incurring additional stress.

7. Ask for feedback

More than 85% of employees consider employee wellness and health when looking for a new job.[18]

Likewise, more than 90% of companies offer at least one wellness program, meaning that your wellness initiatives must be top-notch to attract and retain employees.

To find out what to include in your wellness initiatives, you need to ask for employee feedback to understand precisely what your employees need and how to talk about mental health at work.

You can use weekly (pulse) surveys, focus groups, and suggestion boxes to shape your wellness initiative based on the upward feedback you receive from your employees.

Feedback can help you measure the effect of your initiatives, improve their design, and identify any gaps.

To come up with the best strategy for getting feedback:

  1. Plan your feedback strategy, including what to ask for, how you are going to use the feedback, and how you are going to communicate the results to your workers

  2. Collect feedback using anonymous surveys to get a detailed view of what matters to your employees

  3. Analyze feedback to find patterns and trends and compare them with your wellness metrics

  4. Act on feedback by creating an action plan, communicating it to your employees, implementing it, and assessing its results[19]

8. Monitor, measure, and analyze your efforts

You can track the number of participants in any given initiative and the number of employees who support your current wellness program.

Through regular evaluations, you can discover: 

  • Challenges and opportunities for improvement

  • Popular elements with high employee buy-in

  • Any barriers to participation 

You can hold an annual employee survey to monitor the effectiveness of your efforts and the metrics that usually improve when your wellness program is effective, like:

  1. Turnover rates

  2. Absenteeism

  3. Participation rates

  4. Workplace incident rates

  5. Morale and job satisfaction[20]

As you monitor and measure these metrics, make data-driven changes to what doesn’t work, add new initiatives, or enhance existing program parts.

Improving and supporting mental health at work: 4 examples of companies succeeding with this talent retention trend

Let’s look at four companies that understand the importance of mental health in the workplace and use mental health initiatives to support their employees.

Companies using mental health strategies for talent retention: A summary




Direct access to mental health professionals and a digital wellness app

Oliver Wyman

A wellbeing peer network for mental health support and a mental health awareness month

American Airlines

An extensive EAP to support workers’ mental health and an online therapy platform


A dedicated wellness manager and a progressive wellness program


Uber uses Lyra, offering access to therapists and coaches via live video for US employees, and ComPsych Guidance Resources, providing confidential counseling for anxiety, grief, and stress for international employees.[21]

It also has a digital wellness app with meditation/fitness interactive video guides and a wellbeing reimbursement program.[22]

In 2021, the company engaged in a year-long program to educate its workers about these employee benefits

The business’s senior director of global benefits found the initiative successful, especially after using email, hashtags, and Slack channels to spread the word among employees.[23]

Oliver Wyman

Oliver Wyman, a management consulting firm, has a global Wellbeing Champion Network that enables workers to support each other’s mental wellbeing through conversations with peers. 

It also works to eliminate mental health risk factors with other wellbeing providers, like City Mental Health Alliance and This Can Happen.[24]

It offers health and wellbeing education and local wellbeing committees to raise mental health awareness in local markets. 

The company called on volunteers to form committees at its local offices, and as of 2020, it successfully implemented wellness committees in 25 countries.[25]

It also holds a Mental Health Awareness Month each May to destigmatize mental health and unite workers.

American Airlines

American Airlines has an EAP that offers free and confidential counseling sessions with licensed providers by phone or in-person (online, via chat, or face-to-face). 

Onsite EAP counselors are available at American Airlines airport hubs and can provide emotional support, referrals, and management consultations.[26]

The company also uses Talkspace, an online therapy platform through which workers can connect with a dedicated therapist daily via text, video, and audio messages. Each week of therapy is considered one counseling session.[27]

The outcomes of American Airlines’ EAP are positive. 

Disability claims have decreased, and the percentage of mental health claims is below average.[28]


Akamai, a cloud computing, security, and content delivery company, employs a wellness program manager to develop initiatives to keep employees physically and mentally healthy. Among their responsibilities is building a schedule of live events and finding experts to run wellness seminars and classes.[29]

The company also uses a wellness survey to tailor its programs to the needs of each country it operates in. 

Its progressive wellness program offers company-wide competitions, access to a mental health coach or therapist, and a health engagement platform that rewards healthy behaviors.[30]

According to Julie Paris, the company’s wellness program manager, her inspiration for initiatives is something “that will catch people’s eye and make them want to participate.” 

She routinely tries to bring new experts to teach her employees about the benefits of mental health.

How to improve mental health in the workplace and support your workers

Nurturing mental health in the workplace is more relevant than ever and enables you to attract and retain top talent.

Using talent assessments to create a safe, inclusive, and diverse culture, hiring managers to promote a healthy environment, and removing the stigma associated with mental health issues are great ways to support your workers’ mental health.

Giving them options for flexible work and including mental health resources in your benefits package can also improve their productivity, performance, and loyalty.

To better understand the mental health needs of your employees, given the pervasiveness of work demands, read our blog about employee work life balance.

If you’re hiring a manager, consider using our Big 5 (OCEAN) test that enables you to gauge their personality for soft skills needed to improve mental health in the workplace.


1. Lambright Black, Michelle. (April 4, 2022). “Americans’ Stress Levels - and Financial Anxiety - on the Rise”. ValuePenguin. Retrieved on October 11, 2023. https://www.valuepenguin.com/stress-financial-anxiety-survey 

2. “Mental Illness”. (March, 2023). National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved on October 11, 2023. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness 

3. Mason, Kelli. (April 1, 2022). “Survey: More than 1 in 4 Have Quit a Job Because of Their Mental Health”. JobSage. Retrieved on October 11, 2023. https://www.jobsage.com/blog/survey-do-companies-support-mental-health/ 

4. “Psychological health and safety”. Workplace Strategies for Mental Health. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com/resources/psychological-health-and-safety-statistics 

5. Schmeelke, Melanie. “The State of Mental Health in a year of COVID remote working”. Charlie. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://www.charliehr.com/blog/mental-health-at-work-covid/ 

6. “Chronic stress puts your mind at risk”. (August 1, 2023). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037 

7. Saville, Adam. (August 20, 2018). “Mental health support would improve employee loyalty - Health Shield”. Cover Magazine. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://www.covermagazine.co.uk/news/3061368/mental-health-support-improve-employee-loyalty-health-shield 

8. “LGBTIQ+ people: statistics”. Mental Health Foundation. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/statistics/lgbtiq-people-statistics 

9. “Black and African American Communities and Mental Health”. Mental Health America. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://www.mhanational.org/issues/black-and-african-american-communities-and-mental-health

10. “Latin/Hispanic Communities and Mental Health”. Mental Health America. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://www.mhanational.org/issues/latinxhispanic-communities-and-mental-health 

11. Dimoff, Jennifer, et al. (May 2016). “Mental health awareness training (MHAT): The development and evaluation of an intervention for workplace leaders”. APA PsycNet. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://psycnet.apa.org/buy/2015-30082-001

12. Hampson, M.E., et al. (2020). “Impacts of stigma and discrimination in the workplace on people living with psychosis”. BMC Psychiatry. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-020-02614-z 

13. “Morneau Shepell finds employees would accept lower pay for enhanced well-being support”. (January 28, 2020). LifeWorks. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://media.lifeworks.com/English/news/news-details/2020/Morneau-Shepell-finds-employees-would-accept-lower-pay-for-enhanced-well-being-support/default.aspx 

14. “Mental Health & Your Benefits Packages”. (November 9, 2022). AUI. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://auiinfo.com/library/mental-health-your-benefits-packages/ 

15. Syed, Sakeina. (September 28, 2022). “EAPs offer confidential mental health supports, but stigma and fear prevent many from accessing them”. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-eaps-offer-confidential-mental-health-supports-but-stigma-and-fear/ 

16. Aguilar-Gaxiola, Sergio, et al. (October 27, 2017). “Trauma and PTSD in the WHO World Mental Health Surveys”. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5632781/ 

17. Simon, Emma. (October 8, 2019). “Eight out of 10 hide mental health problems at work”. Corporate Advisor. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://corporate-adviser.com/eight-out-of-10-hide-mental-health-problems-at-work/ 

18. Martin, Judy; Hedges, Kristi. (June 11, 2013). "Challenge 2013: Linking Employee Wellness, Morale And The Bottom-Line". Forbes. Retrieved on October 17, 2023.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2013/06/11/challenge-2013-linking-employee-wellness-morale-and-the-bottom-line/ 

19. “How can you use feedback to improve your wellness programs?”. LinkedIn. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://www.linkedin.com/advice/1/how-can-you-use-feedback-improve-your-wellness 

20. “Evaluating your workplace wellness program”. Alberta Blue Cross. Retrieved on October 2023. https://www.workplacewellnessonline.ca/pdfs/Evaluating%20your%20workplace%20wellness%20program.pdf 

21. Page, Sarah. (April 3, 2020). “Prioritizing your mental health - advice from Uber’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer”. Uber Blog. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://www.uber.com/en-CA/blog/prioritizing-your-mental-health-advice-from-ubers-chief-diversity-inclusion-officer/ 

22. “Benefits at Uber”. Uber Careers. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://www.uber.com/ca/en/careers/benefits/ 

23. Bailey, Alise. (October 27, 2021). “Uber’s benefits expert shares how to communicate your wellness benefits”. Uber Blog. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://www.uber.com/blog/wellness-program-communication/ 

24. “Wellbeing at Oliver Wyman”. Oliver Wyman. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://www.oliverwyman.com/our-culture/wellbeing.html 

25. “Oliver Wyman: creating local office wellbeing committees to facilitate a global mental health & wellbeing strategy”. MindForward Alliance. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://mindforwardalliance.uk/Resources/Case-Studies/631-/Oliver-Wyman-creating-local-office-wellbeing-committees-global-mental-health-amp-wellbeing-strategy 

26. “Mental Health”. American Airlines. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://my.aa.com/mental-health/ 

27. “Employee Assistance Program”. American Airlines. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://my.aa.com/eap 

28. “American Airlines”. Center for Workplace Mental Health. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://workplacementalhealth.org/case-studies/the-american-airlines 

29. Bedrick, Sarah. “People Ops Spotlight: Julie Paris, Wellness Program Manager at Akamai”. Compt. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://www.compt.io/hr-articles/people-ops-spotlight-julie-paris-akamai 

30. “Akamai Benefits”. Akamai. Retrieved on October 17, 2023. https://www.akamai.com/site/en/documents/akamai/work-at-akamai-benefits-brochure.pdf


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