Reduce Voluntary Turnover With Better Mental Health Services

BY C. Lee Smith
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More than one study has found an association between job dissatisfaction and mental health problems. In extreme cases, employees who suffer significant stress or unhappiness in their work role may also be the ones who increase your rate of voluntary turnover. How can you improve your workplace policies and culture to reduce employee stress?

Manager Training and Voluntary Turnover

One key source of job stress and dissatisfaction stems from an employee’s relationship with their manager. If an employee experiences negative interactions with their manager, their unhappiness will show in their attitude and productivity. You can review each employee’s fit with specific managers by using psychometric assessments that take work styles and workplace behaviors into account.

Share this data with your managers and encourage them to be aware of behavioral tendencies that may aggravate or intimidate their team members. For example, a manager who listens to an employee’s complaint about forced overtime hours but then does nothing to cut back on the required work time is contributing to the rate of voluntary turnover. Why? Their inaction sends a message that they are unwilling to actively improve the employee’s situation.

Managers are also in the best position to notice when an employee’s output drastically changes. A high producer who suddenly struggles to complete assignments may be dealing with a mental health problem. Similarly, an employee with a typically reserved personality who starts to lash out at co-​workers is sending a message: Something has changed in their life, and they’re having trouble handling it. Workplaces that train managers to recognize and proactively address these changes can reduce voluntary turnover.

Workplace Policies

In addition to training managers, leaders should establish company policies that reinforce a healthy work-​life balance. While news of layoffs is increasing recently, the job market remains healthy. Employers continue to chase candidates to fill open positions. These candidates can afford to be choosey, so you need to position your company as a great place to work. Factors like the opportunity for growth and better compensation are key for over 50% of better job seekers. But our research shows that 60% of better job seekers want a work-​life balance at their new company.

If you’re not offering that balance to current employees, it’s time to start. The shift to a better work-​life balance must be communicated by and demonstrated by the managers. In too many organizations, managers ignore the guidelines about setting realistic goals for their teams. Remind them to work with their employees in setting goals for the next quarter and the next year. Employees who have input into establishing their work goals also have more motivation to achieve them.

Leaders and managers should also set work-​life balance examples. They should leave on time and take flex time to attend to personal commitments. And during work hours, they should focus on completing tasks.

Improve Insurance Coverage

A positive work-​balance culture can help to alleviate some employee stress. But some team members will experience mental health conditions regardless of your attempts to improve their work experience. Up to 15% of your workforce, at any point in time, may have depression or a different mental health condition.

Very few businesses can afford to hire a mental health professional to serve their staff. The next best option is to upgrade your company’s health insurance coverage. Providing affordable access to these services enables your employees to quickly get the help they need and subsequently return to being a productive team member.

Remember the line from that old movie? “If you build it, they will come.” This practice doesn’t apply to employees when it comes to using provided mental health benefits. The latest research shows that only 19% of employees used these benefits, compared to 61% who took advantage of routine health care services. Employees pointed out that they were “embarrassed” to use the benefits or that they lacked time. This situation can be improved when managers reveal that they have used these benefits.

Reducing Voluntary Turnover

The latest consumer surveys in the U.S. reveal that most adults believe our “country is experiencing a mental health crisis.” We don’t all agree on the causes of this crisis which may have been exacerbated by the recent pandemic, overuse of social media, lack of family and community support, and the increase in polarization and violence. However, business leaders can do their part by developing a positive and supportive workplace culture and offering mental health benefits to employees who need them. These steps will help them reduce voluntary turnover.

Photo by Daniel Reche.