How does mental health drive employee engagement? 
Time
16 Nov 2022

How does mental health drive employee engagement? 

Written by: Angelo Rosati

When it comes to improving workplace performance, HR leaders and C-levels agree: it starts with employee engagement. 

Workbuzz reports that 57% of HR managers say employee engagement and wellbeing is their top priority. That’s even higher than diversity and inclusion, employee retention, hybrid working models and company culture.

Echoing this finding, 92% of business leaders believe engaged employees boost revenue and drive company success. 

It’s easy to see why. Engaged employees are effective employees. They’re tuned in, ready to face challenges and prepared to succeed. But there’s one major piece missing in the budding conversation about engagement – employee mental health. 

At Frankie Health, we’ve seen how mental health drives employee engagement. We measured a consistent uptick in our clients’ employee engagement rates after their team members began using Frankie. 

Frankie’s suite of digital mental health tools includes evidence-based assessments, burnout prevention resources and access to a worldwide network of therapists and coaches. Our unique perspective gives us the opportunity to see how the right mental health workplace practices can effectively boost engagement.

how mental health drives employees engagment.

Let’s dive in and look more closely at the ways that mental health affects workplace performance. Then, we’ll help you start integrating mental exercises into your employee engagement strategy.

What is employee engagement?

First, let’s define employee engagement and determine why it’s so important for your business. 

According to Gallup, employee engagement refers both to how your employees feel about their work and how they respond – that is, whether they’re excited about their job and how involved they are in the workplace as a result. Gallup’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Jim Harter, explains that deeper engagement allows employees to achieve more autonomy and a greater sense of personal agency at work. 

how does mental health drive engagment

Employee engagement isn’t just about staying focused and meeting deadlines.

When team members are engaged at work, they’re present and intrinsically motivated. They value what they do, respect their company leadership and feel proud to be part of something bigger than themselves. 

From pulse surveys to eNPS metrics with software like Culture Amp and 15Five, there’s a growing movement among leading global companies to track and measure workplace engagement. Culture Amp reports that companies with high engagement rates see 13.4% higher stock prices on average as a result. 

How ignoring employee mental health affects workplace engagement and performance

No one can stay energetic at work if their personal tank is running low. Here are some of the ways that neglecting your employees’ mental health can kill engagement rates and overall performance.

Lack of work-life balance

We’ve all heard that we need to put on our own oxygen masks before we can help others. In terms of work-life balance, that “oxygen mask” often looks like self-care, ample opportunities for rest and quality time with friends and family.

Research from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health shows that employees with a healthy work-life balance are happier, more satisfied and more engaged at their jobs. Without a healthy balance, team members will quickly burn out and tune out. 

This directly impacts turnover, as employees may leave for jobs where they’re promised more time to invest in their personal lives.

Deteriorating relationships

Stress and anxiety are the enemies of key relationship-building tools like communication, collaboration and conflict resolution. When chronic stress sets in, so do misunderstandings and missed opportunities for effective teamwork.

When employees feel drained, they’re likely to be less willing to put their heads together to solve a challenging problem. Exhausted workers are also less inclined to get involved in team-building activities or participate in social events. 

Decreased creativity

Creativity is one of the most essential assets in today’s workplace. But creativity takes time, energy and a whole lot of brain power. 

According to research in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, people who fully invest their emotional, personal and cognitive resources into their jobs are better able to reach their targets.

By contrast, burned-out employees tend to clock in, clock out and give their bare minimum instead of their best – in other words, they go into “quiet quitting mode”.

Higher risk of accidents and mistakes

The connection between workplace wellbeing and physical health is often underestimated. The Harvard Business Review reports that 80% of workplace accidents and 80% of doctor visits can be traced back to stress. That means employees are more likely to visit the ER or doctor’s office due to the physical effects of stress and anxiety than anything else. 

Good mental health drives employee engagement

If stress is the enemy of employee engagement, happiness is its best mate. When team members are motivated, valued and part of a positive company culture, they’re more likely to put their best foot forward every day at work. A study conducted at Oxford University found that happier workers are 13% more productive

But engagement isn’t a destination - like mental health, it’s a spectrum. Employees typically move between various states of engagement, from engaged to disengaged:

1. Engaged: Engaged employees are deeply attached to their work, sure of their roles and ready to contribute to larger company goals.

2. Less engaged: Less engaged team members may technically “do their job”, but they’re less energetic and less invested.

3. Disengaged: Disengaged employees feel detached, depressed or even bitter. This can lead to conflicts and other workplace problems.

The employee engagement spectrum

With wellness on one end and crisis on the other, there’s a whole lot of room along the way for us to experience the highs and lows that come with being human. To support your employees most effectively, you’ll have to meet them where they’re at. This will show them you value them for who they are – not just what they do.

With Frankie’s holistic employee mental health platform, our clients are able to support their employees who need it most every step of the way. By tracking their team members’ wellbeing, they can provide meaningful resources and boost overall engagement at the same time.

6 ways to support mental health through your employee engagement strategy

Every relationship is a two-way street. Employee engagement and wellbeing are a direct reflection of the relationship between an employee and the company they work for. 

39% of employees say they’ll move on from a job if they don’t feel heard and valued. In our experience, that stat is even higher than reported. 

To build a positive relationship with your team members, you’ll need to earn their trust in meaningful ways that allow them to perform their best. 

Here are some effective ways to support mental health in the workplace with tools like Frankie – and help your team members meet company goals along the way. 

Fight the stigma

Stigma is, unfortunately, alive and well in today’s workplace – and threatening employee engagement rates every day. 

One McKinsey survey found that 37-52% of employees with mental illnesses said they avoided treatment because they didn’t want anyone to know about their condition. What’s more, nearly 70% of survey respondents who experienced mental health stigma said they’d missed at least one recent day of work because of stress or burnout. 

How mental health drives employees engagment

Frankie Health offers plenty of stigma-busting tools that can help you normalise discussions about mental health in the workplace. Our daily and weekly check-ins can help you integrate mental wellness into your regular workplace rhythm so no one has to feel alone on their journey.

Invest in mental health benefits

Boosting employee mental health is a profitable move. Researchers at the University of Chicago recently found that employers see a $4 ROI for every dollar they spend on workplace mental health programs. Mental health is often a missing part of the employee engagement puzzle – but neglecting it is a costly mistake.

With a frictionless user experience, employees are much more likely to take advantage of their mental health benefits. That’s why Frankie’s platform integrates seamlessly into the tools your team members are already familiar with, like Slack and Teams. 

In just a few clicks, employees can book an appointment with one of over 1,000 therapists and coaches around the world. Thanks to this, we have a 40% usage rate in comparison to 5% (that of a typical EAP).

Want to know more? Check out our article about the ROI of employee mental health.

Support your managers 

Strong working relationships are the backbone of employee engagement. It’s in your best interest to help team managers strengthen their relationships with colleagues, collaborators, supervisors and staff members from other departments. The work is always lighter with plenty of people to do the lifting. 

Frankie offers a variety of therapy groups (usually up to 12 participants per group), each led by one of our mental health practitioners, in over 50 languages and with specialties in over 148 areas (such as grief, trauma, resilience and loss). There’s no substitute for effective ongoing support.

Encourage personal time off

In a recent informal Slack survey, HR managers told us their #1 go-to method for improving wellbeing at work was providing personal time off. We think they’re on to something. 

It’s much easier to “switch on” at work when you’ve taken the space you need to breathe and reset. Team members who miss a full day or two will return to work re-energised and renewed, making it a win-win for employees and employers. A full-effort four-day workweek is far more valuable and productive than a five-day week of going through the motions.

Keep it light

Taking care of your mental fitness doesn’t always have to be heavy or time-consuming. Mental health may involve one-on-one therapy, but it can also look like hitting the yoga mat or enjoying a refreshing walk in the middle of the day. 

You can build employee mental health into every workday until it’s as natural as breathing. 

Lift up every voice

Each of your team members deserves a voice. But many employees don’t feel they have one at work. A Dale Carnegie survey found that only 34% of high-ranking employees think their organisation engages them as leaders. When employees see their feedback is valued, they’re more likely to value your company in return. 

Offer multiple ways for employees to provide feedback – and don’t treat surveys as box-ticking exercises. 

Help your employees thrive with quality mental health support

Employee engagement and mental health go hand in hand. To keep your employees engaged, you’ll need to foster a company culture that fosters mental wellbeing at work. 

Keep in mind that every mental journey is unique, and any solution you will put in place needs to be extremely flexible in order to fit with the differences in culture, language, gender, age and character of your employees. 

Start building a more positive culture today with Frankie. Each of your team members will have personalised mental health resources at their fingertips – anytime, anywhere.