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Purpose is the Key to Post-COVID Workplace Culture

Feature Article in NBC, Yahoo! Finance, Fox News, CBS and the San Diego Union Tribune

The Great Resignation Shows American Workers Are Experiencing a Purpose Crisis and Need Improved Mental Health Supports

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in September 2021, a record high, showing The Great Resignation (also known as The Great Realization) is in full swing. The COVID-19 pandemic gave many people time to stop and think and reevaluate their professional and personal lives. The result is many workers now want more than a paycheck; they want a sense of purpose in both work and life.

To achieve this, organizations must build and maintain mentally healthy workplace cultures. Employees rightfully expect to feel valued and embraced. They want a working environment that provides a sense of community and well-being. They're also far more interested in organizations that emphasize work-life balance and offer benefits like paid time off and mental health supports and services. In fact, a recent study by Harvard Business Review showed that 91% of respondents believe that a company's culture should support mental health.

The Time is NOW!

Organizations finally recognize the huge impacts mental health struggles have on their bottom line. Even before COVID, research predicted the global result of mental health conditions is estimated to cost companies 6 trillion by 2030. With the pandemic, that number is expected to rise as almost 50% of workers surveyed at the end of last year reported they were struggling with mental health concerns. And it's affecting younger generations even more profoundly, with 68% of Millennials and 81% of Gen Z workers reporting they left work for mental health reasons.

These four areas can help organizations and employees work their purpose:

  • Conduct a Cultural Survey and Environmental Needs Assessment Examine your existing culture and develop strategies to increase integrity, curiosity, authentic communication, and collective responsibility.

  • Perform Team and Workplace Evaluations Build compassionate, courageous, and connected teams. Empower leadership to achieve a dynamic workplace where health, well-being, and productivity are optimized.

  • Develop and Maintain a Purpose-Driven Workplace Culture Prioritize and practice authenticity, Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI), and meaningful engagement at all levels.

  • Prioritize Mental Well-Being Customize mind-body-spirit care to address employee/employer challenges such as workplace traumatic stress, burnout, and a lack of engagement/fulfillment

The good news is that everyone has a purpose. We often struggle to articulate, realize, and live in alignment with our purpose. Yet, living with purpose and meaning is critical to our overall well-being and happiness. Experiencing a "purpose crisis” in your life can cause you to feel dissatisfied, hopeless, empty, bored, or to find little pleasure in the things that usually bring you joy or satisfaction. At work, in particular, you may feel unstimulated, disappointed, and lack meaning in what you're doing.

In many instances, dissatisfied employees can realize improvements through their employers’ efforts as more and more companies are offering mental health services to retain their workforce and enhance workplace culture. A holistic focus on mind-body-spirit wellness can support individuals and organizations to get to the root cause of a purpose deficit/crisis in order to achieve lasting improvements. And the time is RIGHT NOW when so many employees struggle with health concerns, loneliness/isolation, burnout, work/life imbalance, depression, stress, addiction, and trauma.

Fortunately, the results of employer-sponsored mental health programs have been overwhelmingly positive. In a 2021 Modern Health Report, employees were asked how they benefitted from mental health support:

  • 47% said their mood improved.

  • 48% felt less stressed.

  • 46% were better able to balance work and life.

  • 31% said they were more capable of bringing their whole selves to work.

Effective mental health supports must not be band-aid solutions or one-size-fits-all approaches; instead, they must be individualized and utilize holistic strategies proven to be effective. Simply put, if organizations hope to attract and retain employees during the Great Resignation/Great Realization, they will need to prioritize their employees' mental wellness and make the workplace actually work for employees, which benefits everyone over the long term.

A purpose-driven workplace culture includes creating an environment where employees are encouraged to be open, authentic, and compassionate with others. It is a culture where employees are not afraid to show vulnerability, including openly discussing their mental health struggles. In short, all people must be able to bring their true and full selves to work all of the time. No masks, no shame, no blame! Only then will we reduce mental health stigma – a critical barrier to organizations evolving culturally and becoming more purpose-driven. And when organizations evolve culturally where employees are more purpose-driven, there will be an exponential increase in employee job satisfaction, retention, and productivity – a true WIN-WIN!

Dr. Craig Beach

Psychiatrist, Founder, CEO/Chief Medical Officer, Open Mind Health

Founder, Work Your Purpose. Join the Purpose Network here:


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