Better work-life balance and engagement are just some of the benefits when workers are treated well. In this Verywell Mind article, Mindpath Health’s Rashmi Parmar, MD, explains how employee benefits can help staff feel valued.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in November 2021, 4.5 million individuals quit their jobs, the highest figure recorded since December 2000.
As employers around the world attempt to manage what many are calling “the great resignation” alongside what may be termed “the great retirement,” workplace benefits may provide an opportunity to retain staff.
While workplace benefits may traditionally refer to an insurance plan, firms are able to explore innovative options for how to meet staff’s needs and strengthen employee mental health.
Employers can promote staff wellness
Romina Avila is a queer Mexican organizer who describes her current workplace as amazing. They say, “I have access to massages, physiotherapy, and that has been so good for my general wellbeing.”
Having not had such benefits at their earlier job, Avila is grateful for these options. “Days off for different reasons are such a relief, like having mental health days on top of sick days, or personal days for moving, etc. I don’t use them all, but it is reassuring to know I have them if I need them,” they say.
Peace of mind for employees
Deidra Thompson, DNP, FNP-C, PMHNP-BC, says, “Employee benefits can support mental health. Benefits such as health insurance, short-term disability and a retirement plan can provide peace of mind.”
Thompson explains, “One can feel secure knowing that they are covered in the event of an emergency, life event, or unexpected illness. Some of these benefits extend to dependents such as spouses and children.”
Since employee assistance programs are provided by many employers for free, Thompson notes, “This benefit can prove beneficial in providing mental health treatment to individuals who need it. Providing this service can make employees feel that employers care about their well-being.”
Agency in how to do one’s job
Benefits can extend beyond a health package or paid time off though, as it also includes agency in how to do one’s job. A 37-year-old woman in Ann Arbor, MI, who wishes to remain anonymous, says, “I wish my employer recognized that not all administrative roles in a clinical setting need to be on-site for 40 hours a week!”
She explains that she was required to be on-site for all her duties despite the pandemic, although many of these can be done remotely, like entering payroll for 80 employees and writing policies and procedures.
It was particularly demoralizing for her that higher paid positions like program analysts and coders went fully remote due to COVID-19, but her position never did, nor did any in payroll, finance, or contracting.
Making employees feel valued at work
Psychiatrist with Mindpath Health, Rashmi Parmar, MD, says, “Employee benefits play a key role in making your employees feel valued in their job. It’s like letting them know that as an employer you understand your employee’s needs and want to reduce their overall burden.”
Dr. Parmar explains, “Good job benefits like adequate paid time off, flexible schedules, disability program, loan assistance, health insurance, etc. can considerably reduce financial burden and overall stress on an employee.”
Since benefits can often result in a better work-life balance, Dr. Parmar notes they can substantially improve the engagement level of staff on the job. “It can reduce rates of burnout in employees, all of which effectively translates into higher productivity and happy employees,” she says.
Dr. Parmar explains, “Burnout often manifests as mental exhaustion, depression, anxiety symptoms, reduced productivity, increased absences at work and negativity towards a job. Burnout can significantly affect employee retention and overall success of the employer’s business.”
Given how important it can be to manage the risk of burnout, Dr. Parmar highlights, “Good benefits are also key in attracting future employees and increases the overall reputation of a company in the market.”
Having encountered patients, family, and friends all reporting burnout over the past couple of years, Dr. Parmar notes, “This problem is not going to have a solution anytime soon and therefore it is very critical that we start taking measures now to improve our wellbeing and recovery.”
Practicing some kind of activity related to relaxation on a regular basis may also help to lower stress, according to Dr. Parmar. “Maintaining a positive and optimistic attitude despite ongoing problems while working towards their solution will go a long way in building resilience,” she says.
Read the full Verywell Mind article with sources.
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