So what happened? Maybe something like this is what is really happening:
Employers, for their part, have made sweeping investments to help employees manage their mental well-being through it all. During the spring and summer of 2020, in response to the health crisis and then a national recognition of racial disparities, leaders shepherded workers to existing mental health resources like employee resource groups and crisis hotlines. They unveiled new perks to help people process the unrelenting pace of change, such as access to teletherapy, subscriptions to mental health and meditation apps, resiliency coaching and paid time off.
But for all the mental health benefits employees suddenly had at their disposal, little about the demands of work got better.
As I’ve said before, many employers did the easy stuff. They invested in some mental health tools, promoted using employee assistance programs, talked more about mental health, heck they even gave people more time off or at least pushed people to actually use the time off they hadn’t been. And yet, here we are. Why?
Because they haven’t yet done the hard work of making the workplace not the place that hurts mental health to start with. There’s no easy fix for that. It won’t happen in a few weeks, but if you don’t start looking at it, you’re going to find yourself without many employees to keep going. Because in 2021, people have options, and those options are only going to keep growing as younger generations make very different decisions about their careers than those of us in older generations are used to.
The workplace will change one way or another. If your’s doesn’t want to, it will be killed.
That’s how the labor market works when everyone has power, not just employers. It’s taken a long time for employees to realize their power, but now that they are, it’s not going away.
Employees also may feel legitimate anxiety around taking time off, according to Kelly. In their minds, admitting they need a break will mark them as less committed and make them vulnerable to poor performance reviews. It can also result in missed opportunities for good assignments or shifts, or they may be targeted in the next round of layoffs.
So, will employees really take advantage of permanent three-day weekends and Friday afternoons without meetings? Will they really unplug when they’re scheduled to? Statistics say they won’t, and especially not workers in the U.S. American workers left an average of 33 percent of their paid time off on the table last year.