The brunt of the mental health crisis will fall on employers – SaportaReport

From a guest communist SHANE JACKSON, president of Jackson Healthcare and co-founder of goBeyondProfit.

In the midst of the pandemic, we have witnessed heroic efforts and agonizing fatigue throughout the medical industry by doctors and nurses who provide care at the bedside, as well as those who support them. We hoped that once the pandemic subsided, we would collectively breathe a sigh of relief and heal.

Unfortunately, we are now beginning to realize the impact that the experience of the last two years has had on everyone. As an employer, we have witnessed first-hand the unprecedented stress that is causing many to leave the profession. As a mental health service provider, we have seen a dramatic increase in demand with too few practitioners to meet the need. The result of these two happening simultaneously has created a mental health crisis unlike anything our country has ever experienced.

Shane Jackson is president of Jackson Healthcare and co-founder of goBeyondProfit, a statewide alliance of more than 1,800 business leaders committed to corporate philanthropy and improving people’s lives.

In the summer of 2020, during some of the darkest days of quarantines and lockdowns, the state business alliance goBeyondProfit began asking people about their mental health. In this initial study, respondents shared that they were concerned, but nevertheless described their mental health as generally positive. That prospect is now in decline.

In a recent survey, goBeyondProfit reported that 30 percent of working Georgians surveyed said they were likely to leave their jobs in the next six months, with 38 percent saying compensation influenced their decision. The second reason stands out. About 35 percent — almost the same number who chose compensation — said their mental health played a role in why they would look for a new job.

That people are struggling with mental health issues right now is no surprise. That they would cite it as the main reason for looking for a new job should be a wake-up call for all businesses.

Earlier this year, Georgia lawmakers showed a commendable display of bipartisanship by passing legislation designed to increase access to mental health professionals in our state. It is good that our government is doing its part to address this crisis, but the results of the state’s efforts will take years. For businesses and workers in Georgia, the crisis is now.

This latest goBeyondProfit survey also asks Georgians which institutions they trust to do what is right. Only 36 percent say they trust state government. Conversely, 65 percent say they trust their employers to do what is right. And a whopping 75 percent of Georgians trust their own employers to go above and beyond what is right and actually help solve the societal problems we collectively face.

If you’re running a business in Georgia, here’s what you need to hear. Your employees are burned and hurt. They trust you to help them, but if you don’t, they will leave. It’s so simple.

So what are business leaders to do?

Employees are certainly looking to their employers to help connect them with mental health professionals and other resources that can help them. More importantly, when asked what their employers can do to really show they care, the number one answer is to provide flexibility.

This shouldn’t be oversimplified to mean that people just want to work from home. What employees are looking for is for their employers to engage with them to determine when, where and how they can work in a way that can help them manage the incredible number of stresses in their lives right now.

Every business struggles with turnover during this time of The Great Resignation. There is a labor shortage, wage inflation is real, and businesses must make tough decisions to balance the rising cost of labor with their ability to deliver quality to their customers. But one thing every business leader can do is actively seek to understand what’s going on in the lives of the people they work with. If businesses are using their resources for their struggling employees, we can be part of the solution.

Georgia needs us.

Would you like to write a guest column for SaportaReport? The SR team strives to elevate and expand diverse perspectives in our community, and we want to hear from you! Email editor Derek Prall to discuss specifics.

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