HomeArticleBlog  →  Prioritizing Mental Health: How Companies Can Support Employees During Economic Uncertainty

Prioritizing Mental Health: How Companies Can Support Employees During Economic Uncertainty

By Common Impact | May 31, 2023

As the world faces economic downturns, companies are making the difficult decision of layoffs, pay cuts, and furloughs. The effects of these changes can be felt throughout the workforce, impacting employee mental health and well-being. The uncertainty and anxiety that come with financial instability can lead to increased stress levels and even depression. In addition, job loss or the fear of job loss can be a significant source of stress for employees. Employers need open communication, raise mental health awareness, and provide resources to support their employees.  

Companies are using various strategies to support their employees during these challenging times. Employee assistance programs (EAP) are a common way for companies are supporting their employees. EAPs offer confidential counseling services, financial advice, and other resources that can help employees navigate the challenges of a recession. Although 97% of large employers offer EAPs, only 4-6% of employees use their company’s employee assistance program (EAP). Low usage of EAP may be due to the lack of awareness or stigma surrounding mental health issues. Companies may promote EAPs as a valuable benefit available to all employees. This can be done through internal communications, such as email newsletters, posters, and other promotional materials that highlight the benefits of EAPs and encourage employees to use them. Companies can also offer educational resources and training to employees and managers. This can include workshops, webinars, and other forms of training that help build awareness of mental health issues, reduce stigma, and provide guidance on accessing EAP resources. 

Stress associated with a recession can take a toll on employees’ mental health and lead to decreased motivation, decreased job satisfaction, and increased absenteeism. This can create a cycle of disengagement, where employees feel less connected to their work and are less productive.  

Companies can support their employees through employee engagement initiatives such as skills-based volunteering. Not only does volunteering provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment, but it can also help to offset the negative impacts of a recession on morale and job satisfaction. Employees can feel a sense of accomplishment and pride by using their skills to make a difference in their communities, boosting their engagement and motivation. Skills-based volunteerism can help foster a sense of community and teamwork, which can be especially valuable when employees feel isolated or disconnected from their colleagues. Employees can build relationships and camaraderie by working together on a shared project or goal, improving their engagement and overall well-being. 

Providing stress management resources to employees is another strategy companies are adopting. This can include offering virtual mental health resources such as yoga and meditation classes or access to mental health apps. Mental health issues can disproportionately affect specific populations, including people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and those with disabilities. By promoting mental health literacy, companies can help reduce disparities in mental health outcomes and create a more inclusive workplace culture. By providing training and resources to help employees understand and address mental health issues, companies can improve workplace culture, reduce mental health stigma, and encourage open communication.  

Finally, transparent communication is essential during a recession. Companies that communicate openly and honestly with their employees can help to reduce anxiety and uncertainty. Regular updates about the company’s state, any changes that may be coming, and what the company is doing to support its employees can help build trust and foster a sense of community. By offering employee assistance programs, engaging employees through volunteering initiatives, providing stress management resources, and communicating transparently, companies can support employees during these challenging times and build a more resilient and inclusive workplace culture. 

Start or enhance your skills-based volunteering programming with Common Impact. Learn about our strategic consulting and program management services, as well as tools & training to amplify your impact.