Blog Post

Three Steps to Discover Which Mental Health and Wellness Interventions Employees Really Need

By Zsofia Duarte and Juliana Parra
January 18, 2024

According to Mind Share Partners’ 2023 Mental Health at Work Report, employee mental health isn’t improving in the United States. In fact, one-third of workers rated their overall mental health a 6 or below on a 10-point scale this past year—noting finances and work had the greatest negative impact on their mental well-being.

Instead of settling for Band-Aid solutions, employees want root-cause interventions to foster mentally healthy workplace cultures. While clinical interventions are incredibly useful tools to cope with individual mental health challenges, organizations need to intervene at the corporate level to address challenges exacerbated or created by workplace culture.

Mental health comprises a diverse spectrum of experiences, from diagnosable conditions and symptoms to challenges such as grief, burnout, and stress. Burnout, now deemed an occupational phenomenon by the World Health Organization, is rooted in poorly managed workplace stress. It’s no longer seen as an individual problem to be addressed with a mix of Band-Aid support benefits (such as telehealth, mental health apps, or “No Meeting Fridays”). There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to cultivate high-performing, inclusive workplaces where employees thrive. However, creating an employee-informed, psychologically safe assessment is a critical step for organizational leaders to take to address cracks in their organizational culture as they seek to actively listen to the needs of their employees.

78% of workers rated a healthy and sustainable culture of work as moderately, very, or extremely helpful.

—”The Future of Mental Health at Work Is Safety, Community, and a Healthy Organizational Culture”, Harvard Business Review

Here are three best practices for assessing your organizational culture to better support your employees’ mental health:

1. Create a Psychologically Safe Environment

Psychologically safe workplaces support empowerment in expression, embracing vulnerability, and building trust and support. When assessing the strength of workplace culture, psychological safety is at the top of employees’ list of expectations. This past year, however, workers reported feeling less safe talking about mental health at work and less supported regarding mental health concerns. To identify the best way to address employee well-being, organizational leaders must create an environment where employees feel heard and valued and believe their needs will be actively addressed.

To create a space where employees share honestly and you’re more likely to get an accurate picture of your organizational culture and employee well-being, conduct a completely anonymous assessment via a third-party platform.It’s important that senior stakeholders prioritize participation and encourage every employee to complete the assessment. Centering the employee voice in your assessment won’t be nearly as effective if employees don’t feel safe sharing hard truths about their current workplace dynamics.

2. Collect Actionable Feedback to Understand Employee Perspectives

Mental health resources and solutions cannot effectively serve employees without addressing their unique needs and challenges and that’s nearly impossible to do without knowing what employees feel their workplace is lacking. The U.S. Surgeon General’s framework for workplace mental health and well-being centers workers’ voice and equity. Employees should feel safe discussing their individual experiences and should be encouraged to contribute their unique perspectives.

With the right assessment, organizations can map connections between their workplace culture and their employees’ mental health. The results will help leaders identify the root causes of challenging workplace dynamics and design data-informed interventions that their employees want. To ensure your assessment is informed from the bottom up, ask your employees dynamic quantitative and qualitative questions rather than relying on top-down input from senior stakeholders. 

3. Share Your Action Plan Quickly to Build Trust with Employees

While it can be difficult to accept the truths brought to light from an assessment, an organization’s leaders must commit to act on the information provided with more than Band-Aid mental health solutions. Even though an employee’s reality may not match your reality, it is still what is true for them. Their willingness to share their experiences and concerns should be honored. Unfortunately, many of the organizations that conduct employee-informed and psychologically safe assessments spend too much time poking holes in the data or refuting the insights they receive. This tells employees that their feedback isn’t valued and discourages honest communication.

Demonstrating that your organization can be trusted with employees’ critical feedback requires a commitment to act on their insights. Organizational change does not happen overnight, but we challenge you to take the first step in prioritizing employee well-being: ask employees how your workplace culture impacts their mental health and commit to making the necessary changes to meet their needs. Here are a few examples of actions you can take to build trust with your employees:

  • Promote the opportunity to participate in an assessment as widely as possible
  • Prioritize thoughtfully receiving and reviewing all the data and insights
  • Express gratitude to all employees for their participation
  • Report the immediate and future action steps resulting from the assessment

After gathering feedback, share your findings along with an action plan to bridge the gap between what employees need and what they’re currently experiencing. Once these root-cause solutions are implemented, then you can finally measure the impact of your employee well-being strategy. When employees can trust that organizational leaders will believe their responses, they will feel empowered to participate honestly in all feedback measures. Fostering a psychological safe environment, listening to your employees, and quickly communicating your action plan will encourage people at every level of the organization to share new ideas or feedback that will lead to more innovation and success.

If you are interested in learning how Seramount’s Assess360 solution can help collect employee feedback or support your workplace culture assessment, please click here.

About the Authors

Zsofia Duarte
Associate Director, Consulting & Learning
Juliana Parra Headshot
Juliana Parra
Senior Associate, Consulting