The Pursuit of Happiness: Employees More Focused on Mental Health Than Ever

Employers are adapting on the fly to avoid mass exodus of valuable contributors.

The old adage “Looking out for No. 1” might never have been as relevant and meaningful as it is today, especially within the workplace.

Conversations about mental health are all around us, particularly within the past 10 years. Campaigns about mental health awareness have had a major impact on how people are thinking about their personal well-being, especially as it relates to happiness in their careers.

In the past year and a half, in the wake of Covid-19, this thinking has further multiplied.

The disaster, despair, isolation, and everything else we’ve experienced because of the pandemic has negatively affected everyone in one way or another. It’s caused many people to re-evaluate one simple thing, their happiness at work.

Am I happy with my job? Am I happy with my boss? My coworkers? My salary? Am I happy period? These are questions that are crossing our minds more frequently than ever.

In many instances, wars are being waged against our mental health within the work environment.

This realization continues to rifle through working-class America — a job should be more than just a means of making money, no matter the working conditions.

Of course, individual happiness is in the eye of the beholder. But it’s also a responsibility of employers, one that needs to be taken very seriously. Or companies will continue to face the threat of losing good people.

“As employers deepen their focus on mental health, many may still be missing one of the most important conversations in this space: the positive one,” said Garen Staglin, contributor to Forbes.

In his article, Bringing A Positive Lens to Workplace Mental Health, Staglin explains employers can do more for employees in terms of mental health support by making the company culture a more comfortable, productive, enhancing, supportive, and flexible space.

People want opportunities to grow, learn, and move forward within their careers. Staying stagnant leads many to question their well-being and happiness within the context of their jobs.

The reality is that our careers are tied to our mental well-being, whether it’s subconscious or not. This was exemplified during the pandemic.

According to Jeanne Sahadi of CNN Business, the stigma of mental health is changing.

“If there’s any upside, it’s that the taboo of talking about mental health at work has gone down,” she wrote. “In a survey of 1,005 employees by The Hartford, a majority indicated their company’s culture has been more accepting of mental health challenges in the past year.”

There has always been a stigma about mental health in the workplace. The majority of those who have a mental illness, diagnosed or undiagnosed, will not address it in the context of their careers out of fear of losing their job or being perceived as incapable.

Mental health services in the workplace have increased and many companies have worked to create spaces where people can talk about their mental health.

Staglin states two crucial things employers can do to support their employees are to empower them with opportunities for learning and purpose and enable opportunities for collaboration and connection.

But will it be enough?

With the ongoing pandemic, more and more people are quitting jobs or finding new ones in the pursuit of happiness above payroll. This means that employers are going to have to do a lot more than offer a few services providing mental health support.

A simple thing employers can do is caring about employees’ success, growth, hard work, positive assets and attributes, and their well-being. This will go a long way toward making employees’ work experiences relevant, meaningful … and happy.