Top Companies Offering Mental Health Days
Employers know that mentally exhausted employees need a break from work occasionally to stay healthy and productive. Here are some of the top businesses that offer mental health days.
Employers recognize that work, like life in general, can be stressful. They also know that mentally exhausted employees need a break from work occasionally to stay healthy and productive. That’s why some of the industries’ most high-profile companies are offering workers mental health days (MHDs).
MHDs aren’t new. Stressed and burned-out workers have been taking paid vacation and personal days to “chill out” for decades. Now companies are offering MHDs as official time off, either paid or unpaid, for employees to de-stress and bounce back.
As expected, the top companies offering MHDs are often the “heavy-hitters,” those whose size and visibility get most of the media’s attention. Sometimes they’re also the “first ones out of the gate” when it comes to taking the lead on trends like MHDs.
But these big-company advantages shouldn’t discourage small businesses (SMBs) from providing a benefit that supports employees’ mental wellness. A few days away from the office could help relieve employees of the stress associated with what behavioral scientists call “occupational mental health” (OMH).
Scientists discover ties between work stress and illness
Behavioral scientists recognized in 1831 how work can harm employees’ health. Occupational medicine took off at that time, and later, as mental health became less of a social taboo, OMH emerged as more than a theory.
Today’s employers are making workers’ emotional well-being a priority.
Today’s employers are making workers’ emotional well-being a priority. In a 2022 study by Willis Towers Watson, 86% of HR leaders agreed that mental health in the workplace was a major concern. The downside is that only half had a strategy for addressing the problem.
One solution is to offer employees mental health days, as forward-thinking high-profile and tech companies have done.
Employers commit to workers’ mental well-being
Companies that offer their employees mental health days often end up on “top companies to work for” rosters. In fact, 96% of the employers on LinkedIn’s list of Top Companies in the United States in 2022 offer MHDs.
Workest’s list of employers includes companies that offer MHDs, as well as those that sponsor a range of emotional wellness programs.
LinkedIn’s list of companies includes:
- PwC (Price Waterhouse Cooper)
- Bank of America
Companies offering MHDs are:
Other employers committed to employees’ emotional well-being include:
- City Year
- Cockroach Labs
- EY (Ernst & Young)
- Influence & Company
- Juniper Networks
- Ring Central
- Thermo Fisher Scientific
Offering mental health days is just one of many ways companies support employees’ mental wellness. For example, PwC gives employees $250 each time they take a full week’s vacation in fiscal year 2022 to encourage mental health breaks.
The company also allows workers to take up to 6 months off and receive 20% of their pay while away in a new leave of absence program.
Deloitte has a consulting psychologist on staff and opened a new Integrated Mental Health Services center last year.
Practically all (96%) of the employers on LinkedIn’s top companies list offer paid MHDs, and 2/3 allow workers company-wide time off.
Startups and tech companies
Praised for being innovative and cutting-edge, startups and tech companies are driving many of today’s workplace trends, including offering MHDs. Here are 15 of those companies and their descriptions:
- Provide, a fintech company supporting healthcare professionals
- Scriptdrop, a healthcare technology firm
- Stansbury Weaver, a tech company with a liberal time-off policy
- T-CETRA, a fintech company offering free services in employee assistance programs (EAPs)
- SkySpecs, which has a liberal time-off policy
- Signal Advisors, a company supporting financial advisors
- Root Inc., an insurtech firm
- Waymark, a digital creative marketing company
- Hush, a company focused on digital privacy
- Duolingo, a language-learning startup
- PAXAFE, which offers parcel Internet of Things (IoT) services
- Fiveable, an edtech firm
- Cerkl, which serves communication teams
- Drip, an e-commerce firm
- Olive, which advances automation in the healthcare industry
Companies’ level of commitment to mental well-being is critical, especially with statistics showing a stark rise in stress and burnout in the workplace.
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COVID-19 is driving up workers’ stress
Employment experts blame the pandemic for boosting an already increasing amount of stress and burnout in the workplace. But studies show that stress and burnout were rising long before COVID-19 set in.
Stress is the body’s reaction to harmful conditions, whether real or imagined. Burnout is mental, emotional, or physical exhaustion. Unchecked and untreated, both conditions can cause a range of serious chronic health disorders.
Stressed and burned-out employees may show behavioral changes, such as:
- A drop in productivity
- Conflicts with coworkers
- Mental disengagement in work activities
Mental health statistics are sobering
These survey results may remove any doubts about the seriousness of mental health in the workplace:
- 52% of workers say they feel burned out.
- One in 3 workers see their job as negatively affecting their health and well-being.
- 76% of workers in a 2021 Mind Share Partners’ survey said they had a mental health problem in the previous year, and about half said they left a job in part because of a mental health situation.
The World Health Organization (WHO) calls mental illness the greatest cause of disability among workers globally. WHO offers these sobering statistics:
- Depressed workers miss about 5 days of work every 3 months. They also miss as many as 25 more days a year than their coworkers.
- Depression reduces productivity by 11.5 days every 3 months, and causes performance impairment for 1 to 2 hours of each 8-hour shift.
- Burnout, depression, or anxiety account for 62% of missed workdays a year.
As for the dollar costs of mental distress, employers pay $15,000 annually in healthcare treatment, lost productivity, and turnover. Also, workers suffering from depression are more prone to developing serious health problems like cancer or heart disease, which can mean higher health care premiums for employers.
Employees can calculate the costs of mental health in their organization by using the NSC’s Cost Calculator.
So, how can employers offer MHDs, and are there any risks?
Offering MHDs starts with removing the stigma
Mental health is no longer plagued by the stigma that caused people to deny, hide, or refuse to talk about it. Employers are helping remove the stigma by encouraging employees to take time off to regroup mentally.
Employers are helping remove the stigma by encouraging employees to take time off to regroup mentally.
Monster recommends these steps for offering MHDs:
- Encourage employees to take sick days whenever they feel the need to.
- Require employees to use their annual allotted time off.
- Give managers the authority to grant time off for mental health relief.
- Offer company-wide MHDs so that no employee feels targeted for taking time off for mental health.
- Draft a company policy for offering mental health days and communicate it to all staff members.
While these steps seem doable, employers must consider what the risks may be.
MHD policies could lower employers’ risks
Brian David Crane, founder of CallerSmart, an ID authentication software company, told Workest that he doesn’t see any risks in offering MHDs.
“There should be no problems with offering mental health days since that will only help brands and businesses improve their workforce’s productivity,” said Crane. “But most companies allocate two days off per week (Saturday and Sunday) as a part of the workplace policy, so the need to offer extra mental health days may be considered a waste.”
Crane also said that employers may allow employees to take 2 to 3 mental health days twice a year under a no-questions-asked policy. He added that this type of program would keep employees from losing pay while discouraging them from working on their days off.
He favors having an MHD policy that addresses:
- Hybrid work options
- Mandatory leave
Monster recommends that employers’ MHD policies:
- Require written time-off requests.
- Specify the number of days employees may take off for mental health.
- Restrict the MHD benefit to employees only, not contractors.
- Give employees access to EAPs, if available.
Policies help employees take much-needed time off, but studies show that employers also benefit from offering MHDs.
Data: Proactive employers have an edge
Investing in employees’ mental well-being does pay off. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), employers get back $4 on every dollar invested in mental health support and treatment.
Offering MHDs also pays off by:
- Allowing employees time off to heal and return to work feeling they’re at their best.
- Preventing burnout, which can cause a surge in absenteeism and turnover. Taking steps to retain employees makes them feel valued.
- Increasing productivity. Supporting employees’ mental health, especially with paid time off, can help them cope with stress and focus better on their work.
The next step for employers is recognizing when employees need help.
How to recognize the signs of mental distress
Diagnosing mental illness should be left to mental health professionals. But employers can look for signs that employees may need support, such as when they’re:
- Frequently ill and sneezing, coughing, taking frequent bathroom breaks, and having stomach problems.
- Showing abrupt changes in their appearance, usually for the worse.
- Looking exhausted and struggling to stay awake at meetings, engage in conversations, or get through the workday by drinking coffee.
- Feeling unappreciated.
- Thinking that every day is a “bad day.”
Workplaces celebrate World Mental Health Day
The WHO has designated October 10 as World Mental Health Day to raise global awareness of mental health issues and mobilize global support for mental and emotional wellness. Employers can take part by offering MHDs or sponsoring wellness activities.
Also, May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which has been observed in the U.S. since 1949. Employers can start planning for next year’s celebration.