iPad with Mental Health Matters dispplayed on screen

The Gap Between What Management Thinks about Mental Health and what Employees Experience

Turns out, you might think you have it covered but your employees may not agree:

Gallup’s survey found a huge—and very telling—gap between how employees and leaders see the organizations: 65% of chief human resources officers strongly agreed that their organization cares about employees’ overall well-being. But only 24% of employees said the same.

I would tend to agree that Cesar identifies some of the things that create this gap. Leaders often throw benefits out to solve the problem, when work might actually be the problem. A great employee assistance program, health insurance that fairly covers mental healthcare, heck maybe they even threw in a few meditation app subscriptions for free. “See, we care!”

But the employee is quietly suffering from a lack of any connection to coworkers, poor communication with their boss, workplace stress, or even bullying and harassment, with no one in leadership to talk to. That’s not going to make them feel like you care.

It’s also possible that many companies are engaging in Wellbeing Washing.

Wellbeing washing is when a company emphasizes appearing to be focussed on wellbeing in a way that enhances their PR profile externally while ignoring how employees are actually feeling internally. Toxic practices, limited resources, and a lack of psychological safety can mean that the reality of a teams’ culture vastly differs from what an organization advertises.

I suspect this happens a lot. It’s easy to say you care and want to help your employees. It’s messier to actually care, especially when your concern was mostly about them getting back to being good workers, with little thought to them as human beings. So we want our employees to feel like we’ve got their back, they tend not to stay and it becomes harder to attract new ones if we admit we don’t really care. Still, many places would prefer to no longer have to play the game and get back to employees being human capital instead of human beings.

Think of this example. When someone in your immediate family passes away your employer will, of course, send flowers, express their sympathy, and tell you not to worry about work right now.

How long will it be before they want to know when you’ll be back? That’s the gap between providing a benefit; bereavement leave; and truly caring.

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