Aiding Employee Mental Health Across Multiple Generations
Workspan Daily
May 18, 2022
Key Takeaways

  • Starting at the top. Highlighting the need for mental health resources for all generations involves engaging not only C-suite leaders, but direct line managers and overall influencers in showing their support and approval.
  • Ensuring access. Identifying and expanding the access employees have to mental health care and emotional well-being resources is something employees should consider.
  • Providing virtual care. Virtual behavioral health care services are becoming more attainable and can accommodate hybrid work environments, as well as meet the needs of a diverse population both geographically and generationally.
  • Tailoring resources to meet employees’ needs. Employers are finding that it’s critical to support every generation of employees through their struggles based upon their life stages. 

Now more than ever, employers are looking to provide their people with mental health resources and address the need for emotional well-being support. Gallagher’s Q3 2021 Workforce Trends Pulse Survey, for example, has shown that 68% of C-suite leaders are worried about their employee’s experiencing stress and burnout. This has led to an array of emotional well-being resources as one of the most critically offered elements of a total rewards package for many employers.  

For an employer looking at the types of resources and support offered to employees, the multi-generational dynamics of most employee populations is an important consideration. Each generation has its own forms of struggles and triumphs. There are differences in the perceptions and attitudes towards mental health across generation lines. Mental health impacts every stage of life, and by imbedding diverse care solutions into your people agenda you can provide the appropriate care needs throughout an employee’s lifecycle. Moreover, there are mental health initiatives to consider that can benefit the entire workforce. 

As an example, breaking the stigma of asking for support and making it OK to ask for support within the workplace is a challenge faced by nearly every organization. What goes hand in hand with this, is the need to then educate on how, what, and where to access the support. This is needed for all employees, but there are generational nuances of which to be aware. 

Generally speaking, Traditionalist, Baby Boomers and members of Gen X tend to prefer a “don’t talk about it” approach and may not be comfortable communicating or navigating mental health resources and conversations publicly resulting in the need for a more private navigation channel like an anonymous hotline. Conversely, Millennials and Gen Z prefer to speak openly and like to know there is a public space for open dialogue, providing a sense of safety and acceptance organization wide. 

Steering the ship to break down stigma starts with leadership. Engage not only C-suite leaders, but direct line managers and overall influencers in showing their support and approval, highlighting the need for mental health resources for all generations, assuring privacy and protection for everyone, acknowledging that it can be uncomfortable, and potentially sharing their own mental health struggles to make messages relatable and real.  

Identifying and expanding the access employees have to mental health care and emotional well-being resources is something every employer should be considering. Virtual behavioral health care services are becoming more attainable and can accommodate hybrid work environments, as well as meet the needs of a diverse population both geographically and generationally. 

Virtual care offers ease of access to balance work and life, options to be more discreet, and flexibility with technology options to suit a patient’s preference. It is recommended that an organization should review the mental health care available to ensure your organization has diverse care channels such as telephonic behavioral counseling, text therapy, computerized cognitive behavioral therapy (cCBT), virtual coaching and live chat functionality. 

These options can help address unique treatment needs within your population for all ages. Diversifying your support offerings by adding online engagement tools, virtual physician-led groups and other digital modalities also will extend the footprint of care and meet your people where they are.  

Across all generations there is a common desire to continue learning. To better support and empower employees, consider implementing additional layers of training related to emotional well-being. For those in management, these trainings can be designed to teach skills around leading effective non-judgmental conversations about mental health, how to identify employees that may be struggling, as well as coping skill development for their own mental health in a leadership role. 

For the general population, training and education will need to vary and cover a broad range of topics. Employers are finding that it isn’t just a conversation about accessing mental health care, it’s critical to support every generation through their struggles based upon their life stages. Early talent may be struggling more with financial stress and worried about covering student loans while balancing spending and saving.

Mid-career talent may be struggling with caregiving and parenting challenges. Late career talent may need support in considering and planning for a transition into retirement. Offering a variety of life-stage-related training and educational opportunities helps to ensure you are reaching every generation. Many employers are turning to employee resource groups as a way to highlight and target specific employee needs.  

As mental health and emotional well-being resources become more common employer offerings, every organization will need to look into their suite of benefits. But keep in mind that it’s not just about adding more resources. It’s about helping employees of every generation and life stage feel genuinely cared for and valued. Every organization should be assessing the make-up of their employee population, gathering their feedback, making changes as their needs evolve, and continuing to innovate and weave mental health into the unique fabric of their organization.  

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