October Mindfulness and Workplace Wellness Research Round-Up
By The Mindful Leader Team
This month, we look at mental health in the workplace according to three different sources: the CCLA’s 2023 corporate mental health benchmark report, the 2023 Workplace Wellness Survey, and the 2023 Employer Mental Health Report Card. Then, we’ll explore one of the first qualitative studies on mindfulness training in healthcare professionals as well as a new study exploring the relationship among mindfulness, meaning in life, psychological resilience, and depression. We have summarized the main ideas and key takeaways below with links to the full articles.
Limited progress on workplace mental health, benchmark shows
CCLA Investment Management in London has released its second annual corporate mental health benchmark report, measuring how well 110 of the world’s largest listed companies are handling mental health in the workplace. In the 2023 report, 95% of the companies in the benchmark say that mental health is important for business, which is up from 90% in 2022. However, when it comes to corporate management of mental health, the numbers are far less compelling with only 17% of companies able to provide published evidence of a CEO statement promoting workplace mental health. For the 19 companies with a publicly disclosed CEO statement, the average benchmark score was 75% higher than for companies without any such statement. The report also identifies one potential pitfall when it comes to how companies are investing in mental health support: a failure to provide mental health training to line managers, thus leaving them unable to deal with or prevent mental health issues when they arise.
- Despite the increasing recognition of the value of workplace mental health, only one in five companies improved their standing in the benchmark from last year.
- Improving mental health in the workplace has significant financial benefits for companies and investors.
- The report estimates an annual cost of $1 trillion in lost productivity from depression and anxiety.
- Similarly, for every $1 invested towards treating depression and anxiety in the workplace, there is a predicted $4 return through greater health and productivity.
- Companies that invest in the mental health of their workers reap financial benefits on account of higher productivity, lower turnover, and greater levels of customer satisfaction.
Read the full article on Pensions and Investments
2023 Workplace Wellness Survey Finds 74 Percent of American Workers Are Moderately or Highly Concerned About Their Workplace Well-Being
Results from the 2023 Workplace Wellness Survey are in, and it’s clear that mental health and wellness continue to be a top priority among workers. Conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and Greenwald Research, the survey sampled over 1,500 full- and part-time workers in the U.S. aged 21-64, including 753 caregiver workers, asking about attitudes towards various employee benefits as well as financial well-being, mental health, and emotional well-being. Over 50% of workers feel that mental health benefits have grown more important for companies to provide over the course of the past year, which should come as no surprise when nearly three-quarters are worried about workplace well-being and mental health. Likewise, 40% want to see employers offer more financial wellness programs, reflecting the widespread (80%) concern about a possible recession and/or ongoing inflation in the next year.
- 74% of American workers are moderately or highly concerned about workplace well-being with nearly just as many similarly worried about emotional well-being and mental health. Additionally, 25% rated their mental health as only fair or poor.
- When it comes to financial stress, the biggest concern among workers is no longer saving for retirement, but handling daily issues, like paying bills or having emergency savings.
- Health insurance continues to rank as the most important benefit among workers, yet only 55% are satisfied with their current healthcare coverage.
Read the full article on EBRI.
Report Shows Employers Making Progress on Workplace Mental Health; However, Some Groups Say Support and Culture are Lacking
According to the 2023 Employer Mental Health Report Card, employees have noticed some improvement in how their workplaces are handling mental health, but many still feel that their employers are falling short. Compared to the 2022 report, the overall score given by employees concerning workplace mental health efforts by their employer increased from 4.4 to 6.6. While that may suggest some progress, employees were 49% less likely to say their employer made significant positive changes to support mental health and well-being compared to last year. Adding more cause for concern, employers were also 25% more likely to report a company culture that does not prioritize or value mental well-being. Importantly, employee sentiments about company mental health efforts in the workplace appear to have a notable impact on hiring and retention. For instance, 70% of remote workers have thought about quitting their job due to mental health-related stress while women who say their mental health is consistently supported at work were 2.5 times less likely to leave their jobs.
- Employees who do not feel consistent employer support for mental health are 5.5 times more likely to report thinking about leaving their jobs and 2.5 times more likely to think about quitting.
- Conversely, 83% of highly satisfied workers reported no intention to change jobs.
- Key demographics – working parents, people of color, women, and remote workers – do not feel their workplace does enough to offer adequate mental health support and encourage a healthy, supportive workplace culture
Read the full article on HR Today.
The influence of mindfulness-based stress reduction on the work life of healthcare professionals – A qualitative study
Although there have been numerous quantitative studies demonstrating that mindfulness-based interventions can lower stress and reduce burnout in healthcare professionals, this is one of the first qualitative studies exploring how mindfulness shapes the experience of healthcare workers. For this study, 56 healthcare professionals participated in a mindfulness-based stress reduction course for eight weeks before reflecting on their experiences in a group-focused interview and/or an individual interview. The healthcare professionals ranged from 3 to 35 years of clinical experience and encompassed the following range of specialties: nurse, midwife, physician, healthcare assistants, medical laboratory technician, and secretary. Over half (32) had no previous experience with mindfulness and only 4 had participated in an MSBR course prior. Importantly, these healthcare professionals all work in a fast-paced environment, where mindfulness may initially seem difficult to implement. However, findings collected from the interviews revealed that healthcare professionals experienced a positive process of change concerning their work and/or personal lives after the MBSR course. While some implemented mindfulness techniques directly at work to be more present with patients, handle their own emotions better, or even guide patients in suffering, others turned more to mindfulness after work as a means to calm down and unwind.
- Six themes were identified among the healthcare professionals’ qualitative experience:
- Allowing a pause and focusing on one thing at a time
- Awareness of the freedom to choose
- The need for self-compassion as a prerequisite for taking care of others
- The value of presence and calmness in patient encounters
- Awareness of how stressful behavior affects oneself and others
- The value of practicing mindfulness with colleagues
Read the full article on Science Direct.
A chain mediation model reveals the association between mindfulness and depression of college students
A new study published in Nature offers new insight into how mindfulness combats depression indirectly via meaning in life and psychological resilience. The researchers measured levels of mindfulness, meaning in life, psychological resilience, and depression in 1034 university students in Jiangxi, China using previously developed and validated questionnaires. Each questionnaire asked respondents to rate how strongly they agree with or how often a particular statement applies to them. For example, in the meaning in life questionnaire, respondents rate “I always try to find the purpose in my life” on a scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree and so on for similar statements. Responses were then formulated into a single score for each variable, allowing the researchers to analyze the relationship between them. While it has been well documented that greater mindfulness decreases depression levels, this study demonstrates a new pathway explaining this relationship, where mindfulness boosts meaning in life and psychological resilience, which then works to lower depression.
- While mindfulness plays a direct role in the depression level of young adults, meaning in life and psychological resilience played a mediating role in this relationship, accounting for 39% of the total effect. In other words, 39% of the beneficial effect of mindfulness on depression comes from how mindfulness influences feelings of meaning in life and psychological resilience.
- The mediating effect was largest for psychological resilience, suggesting that mindfulness may primarily work to improve depression by boosting mental resilience.
Read the full article on Nature.