Offering Employees the Best Mental Health Benefits


Poor mental health is a notable national crisis for individuals in America. But anything that affects the individual inevitably affects the workplace, which is why human resources executives are increasingly paying more attention to mental health in the workplace. 


Just consider this — a Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) survey of 610 large U.S. employers found that the number of employers measuring the stress level of their employees is on track to more than triple, and 53% of those employers said they will be offering their employees apps to support sleep and relaxation. The survey also found that employers are seeing more of a demand for this kind of support from employees themselves, with 27% of workers desiring support for stress, burnout, and other mental health issues.


Here’s a look at four of the most common and important ways to support employee mental health at work for organizations that want to invest in this area:



Employee Assistance Programs 

The first stop for any HR executive seeking to support mental health is to evaluate the existing Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and make sure it’s offering competitive and attractive benefits to employees. 


In the best case scenario, an organization’s EAP is a  comprehensive support platform that offers a range of services, such as assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-ups to employees who have personal or work-related problems. If not, it’s time to expand the program beyond crisis assistance to include an array of mental health support services such as onsite or virtual counseling, stress management courses, and guided meditation/relaxation sessions.


It’s also important that the EAP is supported by managers who understand the importance of mental health support. In a SHRM study, about 51% of employers say they provide or plan to provide management training to recognize anxiety and depression and to understand available referral resources, such as an EAP, but that leaves 49% of employers without such a plan in place.


Keep Reading: How Do You Manage Employee Benefits? Tips for a Tough Job.


Mental Wellness Apps

Virtual platforms and apps are an affordable and accessible way to provide employees with mental health support. Through apps, employees can privately access mental health services in an on-demand and scalable way, and the apps can handle virtually any number of employee requests at once. 


There are many apps available on the market. Some of the most popular platforms companies are including in their benefits offering include the following:


  • Ginger – provides on-demand mental health care, including text-based behavioral health coaching, video therapy and psychiatry sessions, and personalized, clinically validated skill-building content available anytime within the app.

  • Calm for Business – used by more than 1,000 companies, this app helps improve employee well-being by promoting better sleep, reducing stress and anxiety, and developing more mindfulness.

  • Headspace – a popular mindfulness and meditation app that, to the elevated levels of stress employees were experiencing during the pandemic, now includes a free content hub that offers guided meditations and mental health exercises.



Flexible Work Schedules

One of the most significant changes in the benefits landscape to come from the pandemic is the widespread adoption of more flexible work arrangements. In a recent survey by FlexJobs, 84% of workers who identified themselves as having mental illness reported that having a flexible job would help them better manage their mental health. 


Flexible work can have a positive impact not only on managing mental health but also improving work-life balance and overall well-being. This is especially true for working families, for whom childcare is a major source of worry and stress. Employers can help minimize this stress by offering flexibility in work schedules and locations, reduced work hours, or job sharing opportunities to better support working parents and help them juggle their career and family obligations more effectively.


Keep Reading: How to Effectively Use Position Management for Flexible Employees.


Mandatory Paid Time Off

While most benefits packages include paid time off, not all employees actually take it. This can happen for various reasons, including being too busy, not having adequate coverage or the ability to delegate, and being viewed negatively by managers and colleagues. And with the uncertainty created by the pandemic, over 41% of workers said they took less time off in 2020 than they did the previous year.


Including a mandatory PTO policy as part of a benefits offering can help prevent employee burnout, which has been rising over the past year. More than a third of survey respondents from the HR Exchange report said that burnout was the most stressful aspect of the pandemic. Companies that offer “mental health days” and push employees toward time away from work to refresh and rejuvenate will see how this will help increase retention rates and boost morale.


SyncHR benefits administration can help your employees get the most from their benefits program and relieve administrative burdens with simplified enrollment, automation, and easy to use self-service features. Contact us to learn more and schedule a demo.


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Sarah Greesonbach

Sarah Greesonbach

Sarah Greesonbach turns cutting-edge research and data into captivating HR technology marketing content. She loves to consider the possibilities of humanizing, organizing, and minimalizing all things HR, and her writing helps HR executives and professionals develop their instincts and arrive at actionable insights for employee engagement and business performance.

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