Benefits Strategy


The Future of Work Starts with Mental Health

As Calm celebrates its 10-year anniversary, we reflect on how mental health in the workplace has evolved over the last decade and how it’s become integral to employers’ future-of-work strategies. Here are three trends that should be part of your workforce benefits strategy.

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Yvonne Chen, Vice President of Marketing at Calm Business

5 min read

As we celebrate our 10-year anniversary, it’s been particularly meaningful for me to reflect on how far we’ve come and where we want to go in the future. In the last decade, Calm has become a leading brand in a new category: digital mental health. Calm is a product that people turn to for relief and relaxation when they have issues related to stress, anxiety, or sleep. It offers a diverse range of resources to support mental health, including Break the Stress Cycle with Jeff Warren, Shift Your Self Talk by Jay Shetty, and The Nordland Night Train Sleep Story by Eric Braa.

To recognize the last decade, I’m excited to share our new, free Essentials page, a collection of preventive mental health resources for anyone, anytime, anywhere. This collection is just a sample of how we’re helping people be happier and healthier and how we’re supporting global organizations to improve employee happiness and productivity in the workplace.

Mental health conversations are more prominent today than ever before, but more work remains to be done to optimize employers’ support of their people’s mental health needs. The future of work starts with mental health. Below, I share more about this and about three future-of-work trends to consider as you craft your employee mental health strategy.

Building Calm Business for the new world of work

When the COVID-19 global pandemic surfaced in 2020, it dramatically altered the world and, more specifically, the workplace. A new world of work emerged overnight—a workplace that skews remote or hybrid versus in-person. Stress, burnout, and anxiety skyrocketed, and mental health was thrust to the top of every leader’s priority list.

We built Calm Business to support this growing workplace need, and what started with just 30 business customers in 2019 grew to over 900 customers in 2021. Today we partner with over 3,000 global organizations around the world, supporting their mental health strategies to drive workforce engagement and productivity.

What makes me so proud of what we’re doing is that we’re able to support people with a beloved brand that millions trust while anchoring on prevention as the core strategy for addressing workplace mental health needs. While some employees require clinical intervention, the majority of the workforce will benefit from better daily tools and resources. “It’s really important that we proactively reduce stress and anxiety and offer a preventive mental health tool as a first step for employees who are struggling,” shared Katja Meeuwsen-Nass, VP of HR at ASICS EMEA. “That’s how I see Calm Business, and I’m proud to offer it to our employees.”

The future of work starts with mental health

We’re headed into a new phase of mental health in the workplace. It’s no longer enough to talk about mental health benefits; we must take actions that demonstrate that mental health is a core pillar of our future-of-work strategy versus just an accessory.

According to the 2023 Business Group on Health survey, a growing number of employers—now nearly 65%—say that health and well-being plays an integral role in their workforce strategy, and 73% of companies say mental health is their top focus as they think about their workforce well-being strategy. Leading companies and leaders recognize that mental health directly affects business performance and culture. As you develop your organization’s mental health strategy, here are three future-of-work trends to consider.

1. Younger generations demand personalized mental health tools

Younger generations, who make up the majority of the workforce today, are increasingly more open about their mental health needs. “Even before COVID hit, we were seeing stress levels on the rise. We realized new generations react to stress differently,” explained Meeuwsen-Nass at ASICS.

To meet this trend, at Calm, we’re constantly innovating our user experience to be more personalized and intuitive to meet the needs of younger generations. We’re launching a new personalized experience soon—our members will find a custom daily plan to get them to the right mental health content at the right moment. The more you interact with Calm, the better and more personalized your daily plan will become.

2. A diverse workplace needs culturally relevant and DEIB-focused mental health support

A successful future-of-work strategy supports diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging (DEIB). Diversity of ideas and experiences drives innovation and creates better products to reflect a global customer base. To achieve it, every employee from every walk of life needs to feel included and supported—and this is critical to employee mental health and your company’s success.

Supporting a diverse workforce’s mental health needs requires offering culturally relevant mental health tools and content that resonates with everyone. We’re proud to have over 44% Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) narrators on Calm. These narrators are creating culturally relevant mental health content that is genuine and real. In fact, we’ve seen our listenership of BIPOC content grow more than 5x in the last three years–reflecting the demand and need for culturally relevant mental health content.

3. A supportive mental health culture starts with mindful managers

Third, a mentally healthy workplace culture starts with mindful managers—managers who are self-aware, who can regulate their emotions, and who pause before responding in difficult situations. As with any successful employee program, organizations must find a way to engage leaders and managers. Fifty-eight percent of people say the biggest contributor to burnout is their manager. Research consistently demonstrates that mindfulness interventions create more effective leaders and more supportive workplace cultures.

Developing more mindful managers is key to driving employee well-being, innovation, engagement, and retention—important factors in your future-of-work strategy. At Calm, we run our own Mindful Manager programs and we tailor these programs to our customers through Calm Workshops. We were fortunate to partner with Ogilvy on its Mindful Manager program which saw tremendous results: “As a result of the partnership with Calm Business and our Mindful Manager program, we saw significant improvements in leadership skills and stress reduction in the workplace after four short weeks. Sixty percent of managers reported less stress-related impairment in their day-to-day activities, and 54% were better able to regulate and reframe their emotions,” said Erika Sheridan, Associate Director of People Experience at Ogilvy. 

Are you making employee mental health not just a topic of conversation but a true business priority?

As mental health needs in the workplace continue to evolve, and as the future of work progresses, we know we have much more to contribute to support employees and leaders everywhere. We’re excited about the decade ahead as we help organizations redefine what mental health support in the workplace looks like.

We’d love to connect with you and learn about your mental health needs and future-of-work priorities. Request a demo here.

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