Marcel Strauß @martzzl

Michael D. Levitt, of the Breakfast Leadership Network, offered some insightful commentary on a recent survey conducted in the United States by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). According to the findings of the survey, 70 percent of employees who reported their mental health had also seen a decline in employee engagement. Additionally, the study found that employees’ comfort level in discussing mental health issues rose from 18 percent in 2022 to 38 percent in 2023. In this article, we will investigate the factors that have led to these concerning tendencies and discuss some possible responses.

Why are mental health cases increasing?

The deterioration of employees’ mental health has been brought on by a number of factors, all of which should be taken into consideration. The continuous impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a crucial component that has contributed to this situation. The psychological damage persists even as society and economies have started to recover, with symptoms like burnout, despair, and anxiety becoming more frequent as a result. Work-from-home and remote work models, despite the fact that they are advantageous for certain people, have caused many people to experience a blurring of the borders between their personal and professional life, which has led to overwork and stress. In addition, continuous economic insecurity and concerns about the safety of one’s employment have contributed to the worsening of mental health issues.

How Employee Mental Health Issues Impact Productivity

A decline in an employee’s mental health can have an immediate and direct effect on their level of engagement. It is common for people who are struggling with mental health concerns to experience a decline in their ability to concentrate, make contributions, and feel engaged in their work. “Mental health affects every aspect of an individual’s life, and work is not an exception,” adds Levitt. It is far more difficult for individuals to be present and productive at work when they are preoccupied with the problems that are occurring within themselves. This results in a drop in involvement, a decrease in job satisfaction, and eventually a decrease in the general productivity of the workplace.

Stigma About Discussing Mental Health Still Persists

There is a complicated interplay of elements that can be blamed for the rise in employee unease when discussing issues related to mental health. One of the key reasons could be the pervasive stigma that still surrounds mental health, especially in settings that are professional in nature. Workers may be afraid of being judged, subjected to discrimination, or having negative effects on their professional path if they confess the challenges they are facing. In addition, there may be a sense that management does not understand or empathize with the employees’ struggles. According to Levitt, “Employees may feel that managers, under pressure to deliver results, may not be empathetic to their mental health concerns or may not have the necessary training to address these issues effectively.” This sentiment may be based on the fact that managers may not have the necessary training to address these issues effectively.

How To Help Employees’ Comfort Levels At Work

To effectively address this issue, a multi-pronged strategy is required. To begin, businesses ought to work toward cultivating cultures that are not only welcoming but also stigma-free around mental health. This could be accomplished through education and awareness efforts, or by encouraging those in positions of authority to share their own experiences in order to make the discussion about mental health more commonplace.

Second, businesses have a responsibility to make sure that their managers have the knowledge, experience, and training they need to handle conversations about mental health in a compassionate and efficient manner. According to Levitt, “This can involve training managers in active listening, understanding mental health signs and symptoms, and ensuring that they have resources to direct employees to professional help when it’s needed.”

Thirdly, firms should demonstrate their commitment to the mental health of their employees by instituting policies that are supportive of mental wellness, such as flexible working hours, mental health days, and access to counseling services.

Last but not least, ensuring that there are no policies of retaliation or confidentiality breaches would encourage more open dialogues. When workers are confident that their jobs and careers are secure, they are more likely to be open about the challenges they face.

In conclusion, although the deteriorating status of mental health and its influence on employee engagement are causes for concern, they also present an opportunity for businesses to take the initiative and take preventative measures to deal with these problems. These trends can begin to be reversed in organizations, which will improve not only the well-being of their employees but also their financial line. This can be accomplished by encouraging an open culture, providing managers with the right training, enacting policies that are supportive, and guaranteeing an atmosphere that is secure and free from retaliation.

Originally Published on

Michael Levitt Chief Burnout Officer

Michael D. Levitt is the founder & Chief Burnout Officer of The Breakfast Leadership Network, a San Diego and Toronto-based burnout consulting firm. He is a Keynote speaker on The Great Resignation, Quiet Quitting and Burnout. He is the host of the Breakfast Leadership show, a Certified NLP and CBT Therapist, a Fortune 500 consultant, and author of his latest book BURNOUT PROOF.