Companies should reset their relationship with employee mental health in terms of policies, culture and training, writes Zhike Lei, director of the Center for Applied Research at Pepperdine Graziadio Business School. “Leaders must pay close attention to how their leadership is experienced, and consider whether their practices, policies, techniques, and technologies are making their employees feel safer,” Lei writes.



Today, business leaders are facing a new set of circumstances and pressures, and a new collective cadre of workforce players.

Amid the Great Resignation and the economy recovering from the two-year pandemic, employees are wanting business leaders to prioritize their well-being and mental health. According to recent research conducted by global education tech firm Cengage Group, 89 percent of 1,200 U.S. workers included in the study reported burn out and feeling unsupported as one of the top reasons they are leaving their jobs.

Employee burnout can lead to a range of physical and mental health problems, as well as reduce employee productivity and cost the organization, and even society, in the long run.The two-year pandemic has shown how imperative it is for business leaders to prioritize employee well-being and mental health.

In the new digitally transformed, Covid-impacted, and VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) world, employees’ health is ever more important. Leaders can create a workplace that values employee well-being and reduce burnout by implement four substantial changes in their organizations:


Destigmatize mental and behavioral health

A recent McKinsey report shows that workplace burnout and mental health problems are as harmful to health as secondhand smoke. Together, they cost the United States approximately $180 billion and 120,000 unnecessary deaths annually.

Leaders can destigmatize mental illness by talking about mental health openly and taking significant actions. This may sometimes require leaders to first turn inward to reflect and understand their own emotions, fears, stress and anxieties, and then turn outward to help employees and colleagues grapple with their own reactions.