Benefits Strategy

Prevention

The Future of Work Starts with Better Mental Health Support

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

4 min read

In the last decade, Calm has become a leading brand in a new category: digital mental health. Calm is a companion that people turn to for relief and relaxation. It offers diverse 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 supporting global organizations to improve workplace productivity.

Mental health conversations are more prominent today than ever before, but more work remains to optimize employers’ support of their people’s mental health needs. The future of work starts with more support for mental health. Below, I share more about this and three future-of-work trends to consider as you craft your employee mental health benefits 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. Overnight, a new world of work emerged—a workplace that skews remote or hybrid rather than 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. What started with just 30 business customers in 2019 grew to over 900 customers in 2021. Today, we partner with over 3,500 global organizations, supporting their mental health strategies to drive workforce engagement and productivity.

What makes me so proud of what we’re doing is that we can 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, most of the workforce will benefit from better daily tools and resources that may act to prevent clinical intervention down the line. “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 better mental health support

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 and not 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 play an integral role in their workforce strategy, and 73% of companies say mental health is their top focus as they consider their workforce well-being strategy. Leading companies and leaders recognize that mental health affects business performance and culture. As you develop your organization’s mental health strategy, acknowledge these three trends.

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, Calm is constantly innovating its user experience to be more personalized and intuitive, meeting the needs of younger generations. We’re launching a new personalized experience—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 that reflect a global customer base. To achieve this, 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 create culturally relevant, genuine, and real mental health content. 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, can regulate their emotions, and 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 their manager is the biggest contributor to burnout. Research consistently demonstrates that mindfulness interventions create more effective leaders and supportive workplace cultures.

Developing more mindful managers is vital to driving employee well-being, innovation, engagement, and retention—essential 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 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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