Mental Health and Well-Being in the Workplace: Prioritizing Employee Happiness for Business Success

by Contact 1 Inc on January 4, 2024 in Company Culture, Diversity and Inclusion, Hiring


As any worker will tell you, work plays a significant role in our lives and can impact both our physical and mental well-being. Today, the average American employee spends nearly half of their waking time at work and there is less separation than ever between work and personal life. At the same time, continuing economic and financial worries and the impact of new technologies like artificial intelligence have added to workplace stress. All these challenges are raising mental health concerns and spotlighting the role of mental health in the workplace.

As U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy noted in his Framework for Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being, “We have the power to make workplaces engines for mental health and well-being. This may not be easy. But it will be worth it, because the benefits will accrue to both workers and organizations. A healthy workforce is the foundation for thriving organizations and healthier communities.”

Let’s break down the work-related risk factors that contribute to mental health challenges, why mental health matters to the workplace, and how your organization can foster a positive work environment.

Mental Health at Work

What contributes to poor mental health at work? While there are a number of factors to consider, these three areas have an outsized impact.


Communication has always been an important part of the workplace, but changing technology and the shift to hybrid and remote work has made this soft skill even more critical. With increasing forms of communication to contend with, it’s easy for workers to get overwhelmed by emails, team messages, texts, calls, and meetings. This information overload can cause added stress, resulting in workers shutting down or disengaging entirely. An increase in the number of communications also doesn’t guarantee those messages are clear and consistent. Poor communication can lead to larger problems, further diminishing mental health.

Work Environment

There are many ways the work environment can influence mental health. For organizations working in person, inadequate health and safety practices and a lack of workplace culture are key factors. On the other hand, returning to the office at all is a major disruption for some employees and can have negative consequences for their mental health and well-being. Similarly, remote work is no guarantee of improved mental health. Some workers struggle with the isolation of remote work and miss feeling like part of a team.

Job Security

It’s hard to turn on the news these days without hearing stories of mass layoffs and economic turbulence. Traumatized by job losses during the pandemic, workers are majorly concerned about job security. In addition to economic and financial worries, massive technological disruptions are changing the nature of work, leaving many employees to wonder if they’ll still have a job. With tools like generative AI and the increasing use of automation, worker concerns around job security and the future are likely to increase, leading to new mental health challenges.

Why Mental Health Matters

Poor mental health at work has negative impacts not just for individuals, but for organizations and businesses of all sizes. When workers are struggling with their mental health and well-being, businesses see increases in absenteeism, loss of productivity, and worker turnover. Other impacts of poor mental health include strained workplace relationships, business errors and poor decision making, and damaged customer reputation.

As a result, putting mental health at the center of workplace culture and policies is more important than ever. In fact, ensuring employee happiness is a strategic approach for enhancing business success. Recent survey results from the American Psychological Association and Mind Share Partners support this conclusion. The APA’s 2023 Work in America survey found that 77 percent of workers reported being very or somewhat satisfied with the mental health and well-being support they received from their employer. Similarly Mind Share Partners’ 2023 Mental Health at Work Report showed that employer investments in work were having a net positive impact on mental health.

Ultimately, while both reports found bright spots, they also acknowledged the work that remains. As awareness of mental health continues to grow, organizations will need to focus on company culture and worker needs to build and support a mentally healthy workforce.

How to Foster a Positive Work Environment and Improve Mental Health

As we have seen, mental health matters in the workplace and supporting employee mental health can ensure optimal performance and job satisfaction. Here are four ways to create a positive work environment that fosters mental health and well-being.

1. Listen to your employees

Research has shown that when employees feel that they have a voice in organization decisions, they’re more likely to remain in their job. They also report less workplace stress. Gathering employee feedback and sharing the results in a transparent way can show employees their opinions matter. Additionally, offering employees options that better align with their needs can improve job performance. For example, allowing hybrid work or flexible schedules might address employee concerns about work-life balance, improving mental health in the process.

2. Offer a mix of benefits

According to the APA’s Work and Well-Being survey, 81 percent of respondents said that employers’ support for mental health will be an important consideration when job searching in the future.

By offering a strong mix of benefits, including health insurance with mental health services, employers can capitalize on this focus to recruit and retain talent. Beyond tangible benefits, organizations should focus on fostering a workplace culture that respects time off and prioritizes worker well-being.

3. Increase workers’ autonomy

One of the easiest ways to improve mental health in the workplace is to increase worker autonomy. Allowing people more control over their lives and how they work reduces psychological distress and improves well-being. When workers have some control over when, where, and how they work they are less stressed and more productive. Increased autonomy can also lead to better relationships with teams and managers, improving communication in the process.

4. Recommit to DEI

An inclusive and equitable workplace is an integral part of building a mentally healthy organization where everyone can thrive. Data has repeatedly shown that companies with higher levels of diversity financially perform better than their less diverse counterparts. Given this evidence, supporting diversity, equity, and inclusive practices and policies may seem obvious. However, many organizations haven’t gone far enough to create DEI programs that truly align with their goals in recruiting, hiring, and retaining a diverse workforce. By recommitting to DEI, you can ensure a positive work environment that fosters mental health and well-being for all employees.

Want to improve mental health and well-being in your workplace? Contact 1 can help you hire the right candidates and create a positive work environment. Reach out to get started!