Snap Poll Reveals Majority of Employers Struggle With Worker Mental Health Issues | Fisher Phillips

While nearly 60% of employers have started a conversation about mental health in the workplace, more than four in 10 have seen requests for reasonable accommodations related to mental health issues increase since the start of the pandemic – and a even larger numbers say their retention efforts have been hampered due to mental health issues. That’s according to the latest Flash FP survey conducted between May 10 and May 13 to coincide with National Mental Health Awareness Month, collecting information from more than 560 employers across the country. While employers can still follow our 10-step guide to improving mental health and wellbeing at work, reviewing the results of our survey can also help you navigate this sometimes tricky path. What are the top seven takeaways from our most recent survey?

  1. Most employers put mental health out in the open

    59% of companies surveyed said they openly discuss mental health and workplace wellbeing. Which industries are most likely to start the conversation? PEO/Staffing (80%), Education (71%), Professional & Technical Services (66%) and Automotive (65%) are all well above the national average.

    Some employers may be reluctant to raise the issue of mental health and bring it out into the open for fear that it could trigger legal action. After all, HR and the legal department have been beating the drums for years for managers to focus on performance and avoid being the first to raise the possibility of a mental health issue in cases where production or quality are lacking. This could land you in a “considered” ADA claim, you heard.

    “But there’s another way to approach this,” says Raeann Burgo, a Pittsburgh-based attorney for Fisher Phillips. “Eliminating the stigma associated with mental health issues can do wonders. Many of your workers may be afraid to talk about mental health issues if you haven’t started a broader mental health conversation for fear of being seen as unable to do their jobs or generally having something which is wrong with them. The most effective way to overcome this stigma is for leaders to start the conversation about mental health. It may be a cliché, but leading by example works. »

    Nonetheless, Burgo recommends any employer who wants to become more active in this space to work with their legal counsel before embarking on any project. There are delicate boundaries that must be adhered to in order to avoid not only making your staff uncomfortable, but also leading to a potential disability discrimination claim.

  2. Reasonable accommodation requests have increased

    The survey found that 43% of employers have seen an increase in requests for reasonable mental health accommodations since the start of the pandemic. And the three sectors that have had to deal with these issues more than any other probably won’t surprise you: education (63%), retail (62%) and healthcare (60%).

    “As a lawyer who works extensively with health care organizations, that doesn’t surprise me at all,” says Emily Litzinger, a Louisville-based FP partner who also co-chairs the firm’s vaccine subcommittee. “The healthcare sector has also been among the leaders in training their teams on the resources available to them when it comes to workplace flexibility, and goodness knows workers have struggled for two years and needed help. accommodations to carry out their normal routines.”

  3. Starting a company-wide mental health conversation could lead to increased accommodation requests

    Interestingly, 54% of companies that openly discuss mental health saw an increase in requests for reasonable accommodations. This is slightly higher than the national average of only 43% for all employers. In other words, it’s no surprise that raising awareness of mental health issues – and letting your workers know that their well-being is a priority for you – will lead them to be more open and willing to ask for help. assistance.

    “It shouldn’t be taken as a negative,” Burgo says. “After all, reasonable accommodations are almost always low-cost solutions that put your workers on the right track and cause them to be more productive than they otherwise would have been.”

    Litzinger agrees. “Don’t be afraid to start a company-wide conversation about mental health, as it may slightly increase your chances of receiving an accommodation request. As long as your managers are trained to route these requests to HR, your organization will be better for it.

  4. WFH requests have increased

    One in four employers surveyed say they have received a request to work from home based on anxiety or another mental issue in the past two years. And the same three suspects handle most of these requests: employers in the education (57%), retail (57%) and healthcare (54%) sectors.

  5. Burnout, staff turnover and absenteeism were the biggest scourges

    When employers look at the troubling workplace developments they have experienced over the past two years that they believe have been caused by mental health issues, three major concerns come to light:

    • 51% say they have reported instances of burnout or mental fatigue
    • 46% say they have experienced higher levels of turnover
    • 34% say they have seen an increase in absenteeism

    Perhaps the most shocking stat revealed in the entire survey? 70% of all healthcare employers report having seen their retention efforts affected by mental health and wellbeing issues since the start of the pandemic. This far exceeds the next two highest industries, retail (57%) and hospitality (56%).

  6. Legal claims related to mental health have been largely silent – until now

    One of the positive insights revealed by the survey is that only 12% of employers say they have seen an increase in mental health-related claims or legal inquiries over the past two years. But that doesn’t mean employers should let their guard down. The FP COVID-19 Employment Litigation Tracker review shows that claims have generally increased over the past few months – and we expect that number to continue to rise as work-from-home permits are revoked and in-person interactions (and the pressures that come with them) swell.

  7. Employers are rethinking how to approach mental health

    Finally, the survey found that employers are not just dealing with mental health issues using proven tactics. While 68% of employers encourage their workers to take advantage of their EAPs and other benefits, and 48% believe that their hybrid schedules, telecommuting or other flexible schedules are helping to deal with the mental health crisis, other employers are choosing to new ways.

    36% of employers encourage closer ties between leaders and their teams, hoping that the stronger ties will not only help alleviate mental concerns, but may also create channels to alleviate or resolve issues through requests for support. ‘adaptation. Another 33% engage in team building exercises with the aim of forging stronger relationships and intensifying engagement, while 30% decided to approach their company culture in a way that fosters a better understanding of mental health issues.


We encourage you to read our latest overview providing suggestions for 10 steps to mental health wellness for your employees to explore this topic further.

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