January 18, 2023
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Support the Mental Health and Well-Being of the Modern Workforce with a Mobile App

How to create a workplace well-being program that protects your workers and improves the bottom line
Gemma Bowkis

The occupational EHS field has historically centered around the physical health of people at work. And the mental well-being of employees has been swept aside. In recent years, there has been a shift in attitudes toward mental health, with the pandemic highlighting the need for increased support in the workplace. 

While most business leaders recognize the need for change, they are far less clear about solutions. And there is still a lingering stigma around addressing mental health issues with as much urgency as physical workplace risks. Instability across the world could likely increase cases of mental illness in the workplace even more. Companies must act now and utilize technology like mobile applications to ensure that mental health support addresses the diverse needs of the entire workforce.

The Mounting Issues

Depression and anxiety are estimated to cost the global economy $1 trillion each year driven predominantly by lost productivity. Current global events are only adding to this; with a recent poll conducted by the American Psychological Association reporting that more than 80% of respondents said the biggest stressors of their lives included inflation, supply chain issues, global uncertainty, and Ukraine. The report stated that while we are doing remarkably well in coping with these issues, we are reaching “unprecedented levels of stress.” Let’s take a look at some of the predominant issues that are currently affecting mental health in the workplace, and driving the need for action:


The pandemic has caused significant strain on many workforces in a multitude of ways but most notably in the unprecedented rise of mental health issues. In 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported a staggering 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide. Close to 3 years into the pandemic, millions of people have now returned to their workplace but nearly everyone still carries the stress and burden of COVID-19, with more than one-third (36%) of employees reporting negative mental health effects after returning to on-site work, as a recent McKinsey study found.

The Great Resignation

In 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 47 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs — in an event now coined “the Great Resignation”. This shift highlights changing work-life balance expectations among workers, with people now seeking organizations where they feel their mental health and well-being are valued and supported. In addition to this, the unprecedented rates of staff turnover have led to some organizations running understaffed, adding additional strain on already burned-out workers.

Economic Turmoil

Since the beginning of the year, rising inflation coupled with aggressive monetary tightening campaigns, have pointed toward a global recession. Research firm Ned Davis reports a 98% chance of a recession — a sobering probability reading that has been this high only twice before, in 2008 and 2020. Research has consistently linked economic recessions with a rise in mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and even suicide. Chris Ruhm, an economics and public policy professor at the University of Virginia who specializes in the health effects of economic downturns put it bluntly: “When the economy gets worse, mental health gets worse.”

A Worthy Investment

To tackle the impacts of these unavoidable, ongoing global issues, organizations must act now. Effectively supporting and promoting employees’ health and well-being in the workplace creates a healthy workforce. This means optimum efficiency, increased productivity, and reduced absences, as well as decreased employee turnover. Not only is this the responsible thing for employers to do, but it also has a marked effect on organizational success. 

The evidence is undeniable — the effects of neglected mental health and substance abuse cost US businesses roughly $80 to $100 billion every year, with another study showing that serious mental illness costs America up to $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year. There is some good news though, the WHO has estimated that every $1 invested into the treatment and support of mental health disorders sees a return of $4 in improved health and productivity.

“We know that treatment of depression and anxiety makes good sense for health and well-being; this new study confirms that it makes sound economic sense too,” - Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO. 

When Organizations support their workforce's well-being, it improves retention and leads to greater success in attracting top talent. According to a recent survey of 1,000 Americans, published by TELUS International, 80% of employees would quit their current position for a job that focused more on mental health. By implementing preventative mental health policies, employees will feel healthier mentally, resulting in a happier workforce with better work output and productivity. 

5 Actionable Steps 

1. Open Lines of Communication

To combat the stigma associated with mental health in the workplace, businesses must create a culture of transparency and support for health and well-being issues. A report published by MindShare Partners in 2019 revealed that of those surveyed, 60% have never talked to someone at work about their own mental health. 

Give employees clear steps they can take when they have concerns about their mental health. And let them know that those concerns will be met with empathy and support. To be successful, you must ensure that health and well-being initiatives are advertised internally, readily available, and running smoothly.

A mobile app with ReadyKey makes clear communication easy by placing all resources in one convenient place. And for instances where employees may be apprehensive about one-to-one conversation, your ready app can include anonymous feedback portals and anonymous surveys. Your mobile application with ReadyKey can also include an interact feed to promote a sense of community in the workplace and a tap-to-dial functionality that allows users to immediately connect with the people they need, whether that’s an external helpline or a direct line to their manager.

2. Conduct Training

Provide training on how to identify the signs of a mental health crisis. Share the best ways to address those issues and the steps that can be taken to receive support and guidance. The training of line managers is perhaps the most crucial. A report produced by Business in the Community found that although 76% of line managers include employee well-being under their professional responsibilities, only 22% have had some form of training. A properly trained manager should know how to appropriately respond if an employee approaches them about a mental health issue. This informed support will create a work environment where employees feel safe to be open about their mental health and well-being.

Support employee training with a mobile app that includes training materials, quizzes, spaces to ask questions or have discussions, and more.

3. Listen and Learn

Listening to employee feedback and involving them in the development of a well-being program increases the chances of success. Conduct anonymous surveys to ensure your program is effective and valuable to the entire workforce. On top of this, have management collaborate with an employee well-being task force to help with overall acceptance. 

Employee engagement can simplify data collection, analysis, and reporting on overall well-being program results. Put simply, the people most affected by the strategy should help shape it.

As mentioned in step 1, a mobile application can include anonymous surveys and collect employee feedback. But gathering feedback is only half of the process. Organize all responses and create clear action plans with ReadyKey. Share your action plan on the app as well, to promote accountability.

4. Consider Diverse Needs

While an overarching program is great for inclusivity, be sure to consider the diverse needs of individuals in the workforce. Lone workers, in particular, have a significantly higher risk of experiencing mental health problems. Research by the British Occupational Health Research Foundation found that 64% of lone workers face psychological distress, which is significantly higher than employees working alongside colleagues. Some ways that you can support lone workers are by providing communication channels that allow for regular conversation and team inclusivity, scheduling frequent in-person meetings, and implementing a lone-worker policy. 

Other demographics to consider that may have unique mental health support needs include; members of the LGBTQ community, disabled employees, racial and ethnic minority groups, and religious employees. 

Create discussion groups within your mobile app and encourage employees to support each other. These groups can be moderated to ensure all perspectives are celebrated.

5. Variety of Resources That Are Always Accessible

Organizations should include a variety of mental health resources in their well-being programs.

Some examples are:

  1. Support groups 
  2. Wellness programs
  3. Engaging activities
  4. Well-being apps such as Headspace
  5. Phone numbers for hotlines and 
  6. Links to websites with local social services

Mental health issues don’t disappear at the end of the working day, which is why it is vital that employees can access resources at all times — online or offline, in the workplace, or at home, day or night.  With a mobile app, employees have 24/7 access to the resources your organization provides. 

Mobile Support for a Mobile Workforce

In the US, 95% of adults aged 18 to 49 own a smartphone, and the way we interact with each other and consume information has changed to reflect that. The modern workforce needs a robust mental health and well-being program that gives employees access to resources at any time. A mobile ready app platform, like ReadyKey, can house all workplace mental health and well-being resources and services. It is an extremely effective way to maximize engagement because it offers users convenient, simple access.

A ReadyKey white-label mobile app has a plethora of features and capabilities to support and enhance your health and wellbeing program including, but not limited to:

  • Multiple Content Types - Resources can be provided in multiple content types such as text, images, PDFs, and embedded video & audio files. 
  • Contact Information - Give users access at their fingertips to internal contact details and external support services and hotlines with tap-to-dial functionality.
  • Interactive Chat Feed & 1:1 Messaging - Create an engaged and connected community with a live interactive chat feed and private messaging capabilities.
  • Integrations - Integrate with multiple platforms to seamlessly connect with complementing services like HR systems, health services, meditation apps, and more.
  • Surveys - Custom forms & surveys can be used in multiple ways including to collect program feedback from employees or allow for incident reports.
  • Offline Availability - Users can typically access over 80% of in-app content anytime, anywhere, without having to rely on an internet connection. 
  • Wellbeing Calendar - Notify employees of upcoming well-being initiatives like team culture activities, exercise classes, mental health training, etc. in a user-friendly calendar.
  • Simple CMS - Using our award-winning, no-code CMS platform, app admins can easily make changes to content & app features and analyze data gathered from the app for insightful reports. 

Final Thoughts

There has never been more of a crucial time to invest in mental health and well-being in the workplace. Caring for the health of your employees is the right thing to do. And an effective program is proven to reduce staff turnover, increase productivity and ultimately, improve business performance. And with a custom, ready app — you can put your mental health and well-being program into employees' pockets to access it anytime, anywhere.

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