This is part one of Tammy Browning’s thoughts on how corporations can address some of the most significant issues in 2024. Take a moment to also read part 2 covering automation and AI and part 3 covering skills-based hiring.
Mental health and wellness.
There’s no shortage of articles highlighting all the trends that are predicted for 2024. Rather than add another, I want to look at the three specific issues that will have an outsized impact on the workforce in the future, then discuss how companies and talent can work together to prepare.
Mental health and wellness issues have been a leading concern even before the pandemic. To recruit and retain talent in 2024, companies will need to make personal wellbeing a priority by respecting work-life balance, addressing stress and burnout, and (maybe most important) leading with empathy.
Workload is frequently cited as a reason for mental health issues, but it’s more complicated. Rather than the quantity of work, it’s the total amount of professional and personal stress that’s become daunting for many people. After all, 46% of Gen Z and 39% of millennials reporting feeling stressed or anxious all or most of the time.
Professionally, people are being asked to do work outside their job description, often with inadequate training. Job uncertainty, sometimes due to a fear of replacement by AI and automation, is common. And companies facing financial pressure may be limiting raises and benefits, further stressing their workforce.
Outside of work, general anxiety and worry about the future are commonplace. Then add the costs of returning to the office, inflation, the housing crunch, and childcare difficulties … it all contributes to stress. Any one of these factors are problematic, but collectively they can be overwhelming and lead to mental health issues, substance abuse, self-medication, and a general lack of motivation.
What can employers do?
Corporations can mitigate these challenges through transparent communication and directly addressing stressors:
- Letting employees know that the organization respects them and appreciates the pressures they face. Sometimes people just need to know they are understood.
- Creating outlets for communication including affinity groups, career coaching, and counseling.
- Offering assurances about the future and providing concrete ways to adapt to a changing world through reskilling and upskilling.
Our 2023 Kelly Global Re:work Report found that more than a quarter of employees are at least somewhat likely to leave their job in the next 12 months due to poor work-life balance. Clearly, addressing mental health and wellness will benefit both employees and companies. We know that people who feel good at work—who are informed, respected, and enjoy open communication—are more invested, engaged, and productive. This leads to healthier financial results for the company, higher customer satisfaction scores, and an enhanced ability to holistically manage a brand and message in the marketplace.