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How Mental Health Training in the Workplace Supports Your Ongoing HR Efforts


What Is Mental Health Training in the Workplace?

Workplace mental health training programs teach employees about common mental health concerns and how to identify them in themselves and others. Holistic employee mental health programs will also give employees the skills and techniques to manage their mental health. In addition, workplace mental health training sessions reduce stigma and encourage employees to reach out when they’re struggling.

Effective programs are ongoing and accessible on-demand for employees and include training specific to your organization and employees’ needs. For example, employees at a construction site have different stressors that affect their mental health than employees at a law firm. Therefore, workplace mental health programs should offer training most relevant for your team members. In addition, effective programs address outside stressors like balancing work and parenting, dealing with substance abuse, or managing financial stress.

Employee mental health training is becoming an essential workplace component as competitive organizations invest in their people. Workplace mental health training programs are most effective when they utilize evidence-based approaches to train employees on how to proactively manage their well-being every day. As a result, innovative HR teams implement mental health training programs to keep employees engaged, productive, and healthy.


Why Is Mental Health Training Important in the Workplace?

Employees are more concerned than ever about their mental health. For example, according to a recent study by Pathways, nine out of 10 employees are concerned with burnout. The same report found that over 30% of employees showed a high level of concern for their stress and anxiety levels.

Employee mental health doesn’t just impact their personal lives; it affects their ability to do their job. When employees struggle with their mental health, organizations pay the price in lost productivity, absenteeism, and presenteeism.

Before COVID-19, a report by the University of Chicago estimated that each employee experiencing a mental health issue costs organizations $15,000 annually. This figure is likely much higher now, given the increased mental health problems resulting from COVID-19. To that end, it’s become impossible to ignore the impact of workplace well-being. Therefore, now is the time for organizations to reduce costs associated with poor well-being with workplace mental health training.

HR’s role has evolved since the onset of COVID-19, and employee well-being has become a top priority. While employee mental health has always been on HR’s radar, traditional Employee Assistance Programs only address employees in crisis. In addition, most EAPs don’t offer proactive approaches to supporting employees’ mental health. However, competitive organizations embrace workplace mental health training programs that teach employees how to manage their well-being daily.

Employee mental health concerns are rising, and leaders are looking to address their team members’ well-being. First, however, leaders need to understand what employees are up against to support mental health in the workplace.


What Are the Key Benefits of Mental Health Training in the Workplace?

Investments in employee training are fundamental to thriving organizations— and HR teams are at the helm of choosing investments that benefit their people and their companies long term. For example, a workplace mental health training program ensures employees can contribute positively to their organization every day. When employees learn how to manage their well-being, they’re more engaged in their work and the organization’s goals.

HR teams that opt for mental health training in their workplace see a difference in their peoples’ performance—and their organization’s bottom line. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), companies that support employee mental health see a return of $4 for every dollar invested. In addition, workplace mental health training programs yield impressive ROIs because they’re proactive. Training empowers employees to manage their well-being before stressors impact their quality of life or job performance.

Mental health training in the workplace doesn’t just benefit individual employees— the right training program improves outcomes across your organization. Giving team members the support and training they need to manage their mental health enhances employee engagement, productivity, and overall performance. Offering a training program that actively improves employees’ well-being can reduce rates of absenteeism, presenteeism, turnover, and burnout. In addition, mental health training programs promote psychological safety, which boosts company culture, employee loyalty, and morale.

A key indicator of employees’ tenure and retention is whether or not they feel their leaders genuinely care about them. Leaders who encourage well-being at work can cultivate employee loyalty, trust, and higher levels of engagement. Employees who feel their organization invests in their well-being are more innovative and collaborative. On average, managers who receive mental health training in the workplace are more emotionally intelligent.

Mental health training in the workplace can make a meaningful difference in any organization. By improving employee productivity, engagement, and retention, workplace mental health training benefits essential HR efforts. Your entire organization can benefit from better employee well-being. Explore our in-depth breakdown of the benefits of mental health training in the workplace.


How Does Workplace Mental Health Training Influence Company Culture?

HR teams have always had a vested interest in promoting a healthy company culture that engages employees and drives productivity. Recently, perspectives on what factors influence company culture have evolved to include employees’ mental health. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear that employee well-being was a critical component of organizational health and business outcomes.

Putting employee mental health at the center of workplace improvement plans can help HR create better, healthier cultures. Mental health training in the workplace is a strategic first step. Investing in the holistic well-being of employees permits team members to bring their whole selves to work.

When every team member can be authentic and honest in the workplace, it signifies psychological safety. Psychological safety is the foundation of a healthy company culture where employees can thrive.

Introducing mental health training in your workplace is both a top-down and collective approach to improving culture long-term. It’s a company culture initiative that allows employees to better their well-being and empathize with team members. This approach ensures that employees work in a trusting, psychologically safe work environment. Training managers to lead with empathy, build trust, and facilitate better well-being leads to more significant cultural change.

If the well-being of your people is an afterthought, maintaining a healthy culture is impossible. However, HR teams can revamp their company culture by making holistic well-being a central focus in their workplace. A culture of well-being ensures that employees show up to work ready to collaborate and communicate effectively. When mental and emotional wellness is a core pillar of your organization, employees thrive at work.


How Successful Wellness Programs Include Workplace Mental Health Training

Given the substantial investment HR makes in wellness programs, they must be practical and engaging. Often, wellness programs aren’t successful because they don’t meet the complete needs of employees. In addition, when employees don’t connect with the goal or purpose of wellness programs, they’re less likely to participate.

Participation suffers if wellness programs focus on employees’ physical health and neglect their mental health needs. People need to feel that their organization addresses their overall needs to boost employee trust and engagement in wellness programs.  

Physical health and mental health are symbiotic— one influences the other. In turn, wellness programs that only address physical or mental health aren’t as effective. For example, company-sponsored 5ks and walkathons are wellness programs focused on improving employees’ heart health and prevention. 

While exercise certainly enhances heart health, stress is the number one cause of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Therefore, employee wellness should account for how the mind— in this case, stress— is a huge factor in health outcomes. 

Introducing an employee mental health training program is an effective way for organizations to approach wellness from a mental health perspective. On-demand and ongoing training allow employees to get the support and skills they need before or when trouble arises. This access and consistency make employees active participants in their wellness and more capable of managing their well-being. In addition, engaging in well-being training can make physical wellness programs more effective and keep employees healthier overall. 

As employees struggle with their well-being, wellness programs must address their mental and physical needs. Participation might be an uphill battle if your wellness programs don’t engage employees’ minds and bodies. To improve participation in your wellness program, your organization should consider taking a holistic approach that emphasizes the mind-body connection.


How Does Mental Health Training Create Better Leaders in the Workplace?

“Employees don’t quit their jobs; they quit their bosses.” It’s a phrase every HR leader has heard time and time again. And it’s not without merit: a Gallup report found that the number one reason people quit their jobs is due to bad managers or leaders.

While some turnover is inevitable, HR teams can improve their retention rates considerably by developing empathetic leaders. Numerous studies have shown that the most significant difference between outstanding leaders and mediocre ones is their emotional intelligence.

Emotionally intelligent leaders are self-aware and able to self-regulate— but more importantly, they lead with empathy in a way that engages and motivates their team members. As a result, employees who work for empathetic leaders are more innovative, collaborative, and engaged at work. Conversely, leaders who lack emotional intelligence are less effective in navigating stressful situations, resolving conflict, and leading with empathy. Ultimately, this creates a schism between leaders and team members and leads to higher rates of disengagement and turnover.

Emotional intelligence (also known as emotional quotient or EQ) differs from someone’s relative intelligence— IQ doesn’t change, but emotional intelligence can be developed and improved through training and practice. The right workplace mental health training program offers leadership-specific training that teaches leaders how to build their emotional intelligence. Managers who attend mental health training programs learn to self-regulate, practice active listening, and empathize with their team members. Ongoing training sessions help leaders practice these skills regularly and integrate them into their day-to-day management.

Your organization’s success depends on the emotional intelligence of your leaders— and leading with empathy is a critical part of retaining top talent and keeping them engaged. Leading with empathy takes practice, and leaders can take actionable steps to build their emotional intelligence.


How Does Mental Health Training in the Workplace Improve Employee Performance?

HR invests heavily in leadership development and company culture to improve each employee’s experience and performance. However, workplace well-being is an equally important piece of the productivity puzzle. Effective HR teams elevate their workplaces by making employee mental health a pillar of their performance management strategies.

Employees’ well-being dictates how effective they are in their roles and how well they work with others. If employees don’t know how to manage their emotional well-being effectively, they can’t maintain their normal productivity levels. Things like stress, anxiety, depression, or fatigue can interfere with employees’ daily ability to do their job. Over time, this interference weighs heavily on their job performance.

When employees have access to a mental health training program, they can manage well-being concerns their performance suffers. When employees are experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety, they can manage their well-being with skills from their training.  Employees who attend mental health training can manage their well-being proactively rather than impacting their lives and work.

Performance management is a crucial pillar of human resources between talent development and employee productivity. Most HR professionals have seen solid employees struggle to maintain their productivity due to mental health concerns like stress or anxiety. By the time most employees seek support, they’re already struggling considerably— and so is their performance. Only offering employees “reactive” mental health support and resources ignores how critical well-being is to their job performance.

HR teams should consider how taking a proactive approach to employee mental health aligns with their existing goals around employee performance. In addition, your team should account for the hidden costs of mental health in the workplace. Unaddressed mental health concerns might be costing your organization money in lost productivity, employee performance, and turnover.


Why Mental Health Training in the Workplace Is Essential to Employee Engagement

Employees’ engagement is directly tied to their well-being. If employees struggle with their mental health, they can’t maintain the same commitment to their organization. Even high performers can find themselves disengaged from their work when they’re struggling to cope with stress, anxiety, or depression. Therefore, creating high levels of engagement throughout an organization depends on establishing a foundation of employee well-being.

Workplace mental health programs ensure that employees can manage their well-being and thrive in their workplace. These programs also give employees the skills they need to show up every day and do their best work— an essential aspect of employee engagement. Equipping team members with strategies to improve their mental health also demonstrates an organization’s values. When employees feel their organization has invested in them, they’re more invested and committed to their company’s mission.

It’s undeniable that employee well-being impacts engagement levels. And every HR professional knows what’s at risk when it comes to engagement— employee turnover and retention rates. When employees become disengaged due to mental health concerns, they are less invested and connected to their job and employer. If this goes unchecked, turnover is inevitable.

What’s worse— before an employee who’s struggling leaves the organization, their disengagement and poor well-being have likely impacted their teams’ performance. So, inevitably, team members affect one another.

If an employee is experiencing poor mental health, it’s unlikely they’re the only one. And inevitably, one employee’s struggles will negatively impact those around them. The collective impact of employees’ mental health struggles can profoundly affect their organization’s bottom line.


How Does Mental Health Training Improve Workplace Retention?

HR teams emphasize the importance of engagement because it impacts employee retention. As employee well-being is fundamental to engagement with their work, mental health training can improve retention rates. Mental health matters to employees— especially when it comes to whether or not they leave their organization. 80% of employees said they would consider quitting their current position for a job that focused more on employees’ mental health.

As most employees value their organizations’ commitment to their well-being, workplace mental health training is critical to retention. Ignoring employees’ desire for mental health in the workplace leads to turnover in two different ways. First, poor mental health leads to disengagement, lost productivity, and turnover. Second, employees who feel their organization doesn’t care about their mental health are likely to leave for one that does.

Introducing a workplace mental health program communicates to employees that their organization cares about their holistic well-being. That message can significantly impact employee engagement and morale, which improves retention rates. Additionally, mental health training helps prevent issues that lead to disengagement, apathy, and lost productivity. The combination of intentional mental well-being messaging and training curbs employee turnover and helps organizations keep high performers.


How Does Employee Mental Health Training Help Recruit Talent?

80% of employees say they’d leave their current job for a company that focused more on mental health. So, it’s evident that potential recruits value well-being in the workplace. Expanding your benefits beyond a standard EAP offering can go a long way when recruiting talent.

Including a mental health training program in your organization’s benefits package can be a significant draw for potential talent. However, it’s even more compelling if candidates can see it in your company's culture.

Some recruiters think mental health training and well-being programs are just “nice to have.” But, in reality, workplace mental health initiatives are essential to recruiting competitive talent. In addition, studies have found that Gen Z and Millennials prioritize workplace mental health support during their job search.

In addition, millennials are entering their 40s and currently represent 35% of the American workforce. Therefore, organizations that tout mental health training among their employee health care benefits will fare better in the job market.

Employee mental health is having a moment in the spotlight; however, it’s likely here to stay as an essential part of the workplace. The increase in mental health training programs in the workplace isn’t a trend; it’s a sign of what the future holds in meeting employees’ needs and creating healthy workplaces.


What Is the Cost of Not Addressing Mental Health in the Workplace?

Failing to address employee well-being with training comes with significant risks. Employees are expecting more from their organizations. Ignoring the importance of their well-being can lead to higher turnover rates, absenteeism, and disengagement at work. Not addressing the mental health of your people can also lead to toxic work cultures, workplace conflict, and ineffective leaders.

When organizations don’t train employees to manage their mental health, absenteeism and presenteeism can become a big problem. Most people with mental health concerns experience difficulty on the job because of poor well-being. In addition, mental health concerns can lead to presenteeism, which means employees show up to work but cannot fully function on the job. Presenteeism due to poor mental health costs employers around $150 billion annually.

Presenteeism is just half of the issue— absences from work due to mental health concerns are widespread. These absences slow down teams’ productivity and impact organizations’ bottom lines. Employees are increasingly more likely to miss work due to mental health conditions.

Every year, depression causes an estimated 200 million lost workdays. In addition, the American Institute of Stress estimates that companies in the USA lose $300 billion annually due to workplace stress. Failing to implement a robust mental health training program can also impact employee engagement and company culture. The stigma around mental health can make employees feel isolated when struggling.

If your organization hasn’t actively worked to reduce the stigma around mental health, employees are more likely to become disengaged. Talking about mental health challenges is just the first step to reducing the stigma in your workplace. The next step is providing resources that help employees manage their mental health at work.

Employees’ mental health has always mattered and played a role in the workplace. However, leaders have only recently realized the role of employee well-being in an organization’s success. Mental health training in the workplace makes a positive difference in organizational culture, employees’ health, and company performance.



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Promoting mental health in the workplace is closely aligned with HR teams’ ongoing efforts to improve their organization. Training employees to care for their mental health moves the needle where it matters most for HR. Your organization can take steps to make well-being a priority in your workplace through mental health training for employees. Teaching team members and leaders the skills they need to manage their well-being offers long-term benefits to any workplace.

If your organization is ready to make a meaningful change in your workplace and employees’ lives, the Pathways at Work program can help. Our mental and behavioral health experts will work with you to create a fully customized mental health training program for your workplace.

The Pathways at Work program includes workshops, live and on-demand training, interactive discussion groups, tools, and resources. We’ll help your business create a workplace that thrives by proactively improving the wellness of your people. Reach out here to get in touch with our team and learn how to make employee mental health a priority in your workplace.

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