In today’s fast-changing workplace, mental health is taking center stage, especially with the influx of Gen Z professionals – those professionals that were born from 1997 – 2012. As Generation Z steps into the workforce, they’re bringing a sharper focus on mental well-being and expecting strong support from their employers. Recent stats from a 2023 Deloitte study show that over half of Gen Zs (57%) and millennials (55%) acknowledge that their employers are taking mental health seriously. This shift in perception is noteworthy, signaling a growing recognition of the importance of mental health support. 

However, there is much work to be done by employers to continue to develop and offer mental health support for this growing need. Despite the progress made, mental health support and resources are still under-utilized, and many employees don’t feel they can talk to their employers about mental health. About one-third of respondents from the Deloitte study would not feel comfortable speaking openly with their manager about stress or anxiety. Additionally, among the 39% of Gen Zs and 34% of millennials who have taken time off for mental health reasons, more than half did not disclose the real reason for their absence to their employers, which is roughly consistent with last year’s findings. According to a news report on NBC “more than 50,000 Americans died by suicide in 2023 which is more than any other year on record”. The report goes on to quote President Biden who mentions that for most of these deaths the individual did not seek assistance for mental health.  

The reasons mentioned for the mental health crisis are plentiful including COVID lockdowns, lack of housing, general discourse in society, feeling isolated, and shrinking safety net to name a few.  

A continued hesitancy to disclose the reasons for mental health-related absences or to use mental health resources is likely due to a persistent stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace. Despite these challenges, there’s a positive trend among Gen Z individuals—they’re more open to discussing mental health openly, which is a step in the right direction. 

For small business owners and managers, it’s crucial to seize this momentum and take concrete steps to support mental wellness in the workplace. Here are some practical strategies: 

  • Keep the Lines of Communication Open: Create an environment where employees feel comfortable talking about mental health concerns without fear of judgment. 
  • Tailor Support Resources: Offer a range of mental health resources tailored to the specific needs of your workforce. 
  • Encourage Work-Life Balance: Promote the use of vacation days and flexible work arrangements to help employees maintain a healthy work-life balance. 
  • Equip Managers: Provide training to managers to help them effectively support employees’ mental health needs. This can include training on Emotional Intelligence which gives them tools to have difficult conversations. 
  • Combat Stigma: Take steps to reduce the stigma around mental health through education and awareness campaigns. 

By prioritizing these strategies, small business owners and managers can foster a workplace culture that prioritizes mental wellness and supports the overall well-being of their workforce. As the workplace continues to evolve, embracing mental health as a core priority will be essential for building a happy, healthy, and productive team. 

For businesses seeking expert guidance in implementing these strategies, JB Consulting Systems offers a comprehensive range of consulting services, including training for managers and employees. Our tailored approach can help your business create a supportive environment that values mental wellness and drives success. 

If you or someone you know needs immediate mental health assistance, call 9-8-8 or chat