Employee mental health is one of the most important people risks facing employers today. Issues such as anxiety, stress, depression, and addiction are becoming a source of growing concern in workforces across the world.

Mercer Marsh Benefits (MMB), a global leader in people risk management, partners closely with our Marsh broker insurance team to promote the well-being and protection of employees. According to the MMB Health on Demand 2023 research, nearly half (47%) of employees experience stress in their everyday lives1, and over half (52%) have worked while feeling mentally unwell in the past year1. Furthermore, Mercer’s Global Talent Trends 2024 study indicates that a staggering 82% of the workforce is susceptible to burnout or exhaustion, underscoring the importance for workplaces to address this issue2.

Mental health challenges are associated with many negative outcomes in the workplace, including poor morale and lowered employee engagement, increased rates of sickness absence, and higher rates of staff turnover.

What can employers do? 

Employers are trusted providers of care and support, and they should use this position to help boost the resilience and overall well-being of their staff. Research shows the impact that a caring employer can make: employees who feel supported by their employer are 15 percentage points less likely to report feeling stressed in everyday life, while more than three-quarters (78%) of those who believe their employer cares about their well-being report thriving in their current role and organisation1.

Employers are uniquely positioned to reduce risks and improve access to support systems. Leaving mental health up to individuals is not enough. So, what can employers do to support employees and reduce the incidence – and impact – of mental ill health?

The  following actions can help:

  • Increase awareness of mental health
  • Consider how work design and culture impacts mental health
  • Provide access to comprehensive mental health-related benefits

1. Increase awareness of mental health 

The most important step that employers can take is to make sure everyone in the workforce – from senior leaders to new starters – knows the importance of good mental health. This can be achieved through training and improved communications.

Senior and line managers should be trained and prepared to have empathetic, supportive conversations with employees around mental health. And organisations also need to be aware of which employee groups may need more support1. Understanding the pressures experienced by different segments of the workforce will allow employers to better support to their needs.

2. Consider how work design – and work culture – impact mental health 

Increasing awareness of mental health and removing the stigma from conversations about issues such as anxiety and depression, are important. But to make a real difference, employers need address issues such as job design, work culture, and supervisor competencies. At present, just 53% of employees believe their employers consider well-being in job design1 – we need the other half to take action too.

Job demands are a major risk factor for mental ill health: work pressures, poor leadership, and toxic culture are the main reasons cited for potential employee burnout1.

3. Provide access to comprehensive mental health-related benefits 

Finally, employers should put in place employee benefits designed to fully support mental well-being.

When an employee has mental health problems, it is vital they have quick and easy access to good-quality treatment. The longer someone is off work due to ill health, the less likely they are to return. However, treatment is just one side of the coin. To truly support mental well-being, employers should also focus on preventative benefits, ensuring cover for programs designed to assist with managing stress, anxiety, and relationships.

Steps towards supporting the mental health of your workforce 

Employee mental health is a critical issue that employers should address to ensure the well-being of their workforce and the success of their organisation.
Steps that employers can take now to improve the mental health of their workforce include:

  • Providing leaders with mental health training to better support employees.
  • Listening in to employee networks and interview leaders to understand organisational stressors and devise a plan to address these.
  • Consider introducing digital alternatives to face-to-face mental healthcare for those who prefer that option.
  • Ensuring cover exists beyond treatment for a specific mental health challenge, and extends to preventive care, thereby helping employees manage stress, anxiety, and relationship issues.

Find out more? 

Employee health is critical for business health. By creating a culture of health and safety and a wellbeing program that engages and motivates employees, you can help boost productivity and improve workforce resilience.

Speak to your Marsh broker today on 1300 328 096 to find out how the team at Mercer Marsh Benefits can work with you to support a healthier workforce addressing the physical, emotional, financial and social wellbeing of your employees. Or visit the AMIC Insurance and leave your details for one of our experts to call you back.

Marsh and MMB are businesses of Marsh McLennan.

  1. https://www.mercer.com/en-au/insights/total-rewards/employee-benefits-strategy/health-on-demand-2023-survey-report/ 
  2. https://www.mercer.com/en-au/insights/people-strategy/future-of-work/global-talent-trends/ 

Marsh Advantage Insurance Pty Ltd (ABN 31 081 358 303, AFSL 238369) (“Marsh”) arranges the insurance and is not the insurer.
Mercer Marsh Benefits is a trading name of Marsh Pty Ltd (ABN 86 004 651 512)(“MMB”).

This publication is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. This publication is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. The information contained herein is based on sources we believe reliable, but we make no representation or warranty as to its accuracy. Marsh and MMB shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein.

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