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Study: Employees’ declining mental wellness impacting bottom lines

Written on May 19, 2022

One-third of U.S. workers feel depressed or anxious at least once a week, and their mental health challenges are taking its toll on their employers too. 

According to new research from The Hartford, 71% of employers feel the deteriorating mental health of their workforce is having a negative financial impact on their company. Thirty-four percent of U.S. workers reported feeling depressed or anxious at least once per week in 2022 — up from 20% in 2020. 

As employers’ productivity-related concerns grew, the number of employee assistance programs, wellness benefits and addiction treatment programs being offered by employers fell between 2020 to 2022, according to The Hartford’s 2022 Future of Benefits Study, which polled U.S. workers and human resources decision-makers. For example, 30% of employers offered an EAP in February, down from 54% in March 2020. 

“Our data shows an undeniable, direct correlation between employee mental well-being, mental health support, and the impact to a company’s bottom line,” Christopher Swift, The Hartford’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “Employers who want a contemporary, inclusive workplace that supports its people should proactively invest in mental health, with an eye to empathy and equity. The need is real, and the time is now.” 

The Hartford’s survey illustrates how employers think they’re supporting mental health, while workers feel companies are falling short on access, flexibility and resources. 

For instance, 82% of companies say their employees have more access to mental health resources than in previous years, compared to 50% of workers. Eighty percent of employers said workers have flexibility in their schedule to access mental health help, versus 53% of workers. Finally, 79% of companies said mental health had improved thanks to resources offered by the company, compared to 35% of workers. 

The gap between the views of companies and their workers is also evident when it comes to the topic of substance misuse and addiction, according to the report. Two-thirds of employers say that substance misuse and addiction is a significant issue in the workplace, a 30% jump since March 2020. But workers don’t think companies are taking appropriate action. 

The study showed 82% of companies said they have an open environment that fosters discussions about mental health, but only 48% of workers agree with that. And 81% of employers said their leadership at their company supports conversations about mental health, compared to 48% of workers who agree. 

The Hartford surveyed 1,001 U.S. workers and 501 human resources professionals who manage employee benefits at U.S. companies in February.