By Louis Gagnon, CEO, Total Brain
On average each of us will spend one-third of our adult life at work. Workplace leaders have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to ensure the mental health of their employees through innovative solutions and forward-thinking programs. This was true yesterday. It will be true tomorrow. And without a doubt, amid the COVID-19 crisis, it is true today.
In early March 2020, Total Brain research indicated that more than half of US workers (58 percent) are anxious in the face of the global pandemic. Further, almost two in five (35 percent) report that this anxiety is interfering with their workplace productivity, while one in four state that it is negatively impacting the quality of their work. Yet, nearly two in five employees report having little to no access to mental health resources. More recently, a Washington Post-ABC News poll showed 77 percent of American women and 61 percent of men reported feeling stressed.
This global contagion is placing a much-needed spotlight on the impact of high stress levels in the workplace. The human and economic impact is enormous. It would be all too simple to place the blame solely on the coronavirus. Yes, workforces are suffering and so is business because of this pandemic; however, stress was here before and will continue well after the world gets back to normal. Consider this: health care expenditures at high-pressure companies are nearly 50% greater than at other organizations. The American Psychological Association estimates that more than $500 billion is siphoned off from the U.S. economy because of workplace stress, and 550 million workdays are lost each year due to stress on the job.
While many would argue that the stress-inducing, always-on workplace of today is driven by technology; I argue that technology can also be THE answer. Indeed, in this day and age, we can apply digital neuroscience to monitor, support and maintain workforce mental health and wellness. Here are three reasons companies should consider digital mental health and wellness solutions to help employees suffering from anxiety and other mental health issues:
- Approachable (No stigma). By offering an anonymous digital mental health and wellness channel, employees - many who may be too timid to bring up mental health issues within the corporate setting - can explore resources and educate themselves without concern for involving third parties.
- Accessible. Mobile mental health and well-being programs enable people to access mental health resources from anywhere at any time. This is especially beneficial now with the vast majority of people being quarantined in their homes and working amidst new challenges to productivity and focus.
- Actionable. Personalized data can help people identify mental health challenges and support self-care. Further, robust anonymized data benchmarking and trending details enables companies to understand the mindset of their employees as a whole and better respond to their overall mental health and wellness needs.
We are living in unprecedented and unpredictable times. People are vulnerable to stress and anxiety like never before. Negative emotions are contagious and can amplify quickly. They can transform culture irreparably. A high-stress work culture is a lose-lose proposition. Companies that disregard the mental health of their employees incur hidden costs that over time will threaten the bottom line. That was true yesterday. It will be true tomorrow. And it is most certainly true today.
Louis Gagnon is the CEO of Total Brain, a mental health and wellness platform powered by the world’s largest standardized neuroscientific database. He is Advisor to TPG Capital, a top-tier US private equity firm who named him CEO of Ride, a portfolio company that he restructured. As a corporate executive, Louis held dual Chief Product Officer and Chief Marketing Officer roles at Audible/Amazon, Yodle and Monster Worldwide. As an entrepreneur, Louis created and led five business and social enterprises on four continents, many of which were in the field of reproductive health. He received a Bachelor of Business Administration from Laval University in Quebec City and a Master of Science in Marketing from HEC-Montreal. His work has been featured in a number of management books and magazines including The Economist.