HRE’s number of the day: mental health insecurity

Here’s how many employees say coming forward about a mental health issue could impact job security—and what it means to HR leaders.
By: | May 20, 2020 • 2 min read


64: Percentage of employees who are concerned that transparency about mental health issues could impact job security.

Although the vast majority (96%) of employees say that mental health is just as important as physical health, 64% say that if someone at their company reached out about a mental health issue, it could put that worker’s job at risk. That’s among the findings of new research from benefits administration company Businessolver.

What it means to HR leaders

The research is the latest to indicate that employees don’t feel comfortable telling their employer about any mental health issue or asking for help. Other research from wellbeing company Limeade found that even if employees do feel comfortable disclosing an issue, 47% who do so have experienced a negative consequence. Meanwhile, 65% of employees say they don’t feel their employer offers benefits or programs that help support or improve their mental wellbeing during this uncertain time, according to MetLife.

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These statistics indicate that more needs to be done to help employees—especially as the coronavirus pandemic causes a rise in mental health issues, stressors and other employee concerns. Businessolver CEO Jon Shanahan says that among other action items, employers need to start openly discussing mental health.

“This must begin at the top and cascade throughout the organization,” he wrote in a blog post. “Leaders need to create a culture of openness and inclusion, one that encourages and provides avenues for people to share openly as needed. In fact, 93% of employees say that an open-door policy that allows face-to-face communication with leadership or HR is important to addressing employee mental health.”

Related: Is COVID-19 a turning point for workplace mental health?

Employers also should build empathy by connecting with employees and enacting meaningful benefits programs to help employees improve mental health, he says.

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.