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Beyond benefits: Could mortality talks strengthen employee bonds?


As Mental Health Awareness Month sparks crucial conversations, I’ll delve into initiatives for employee mental health and well-being and explore innovative approaches companies can adopt to foster a healthy work environment and culture conducive to achieving ambitions with balance, recovery, and respect.

What’s Happening: Since the onset of the pandemic, business leaders have intensified efforts to enhance their organizations’ support for employees’ mental health and well-being. According to our recent 2024 CEO Outlook Pulse survey, 74% of U.S. CEOs are prioritizing initiatives focused on mental well-being, such as digital wellness solutions, mindfulness seminars, resilience workshops, and coaching sessions.

However, these endeavors merely scratch the surface of the ways companies can assist their employees. Here are three areas at the forefront of my mind today, though this journey is an evolving one, and I encourage you to share your thoughts and ideas.

#1: Beyond Benefits—Innovative Approaches to Prevent Burnout

As most of our waking hours are spent at work, the workplace environment significantly impacts our overall well-being. While supporting burnt-out employees is crucial, preventing burnout proactively is even more impactful. This necessitates a reevaluation of how companies structure work to serve clients and customers effectively.

Insights: To promote well-being and counter burnout, 30% of CEOs are exploring organization-wide schedule shifts, such as implementing a 4-day or 4.5-day workweek, as per KPMG’s 2024 CEO Outlook Pulse survey. At KPMG, we embrace proactive rest by incorporating breaks directly into our work approach. Apart from providing and advocating for PTO, we institute two firm-wide breaks—nine consecutive days off in the summer and winter—allowing everyone to disconnect fully. Moreover, our Audit practice has revamped audit processes to minimize the strain of the traditional busy season, resulting in an 18% decline in average weekly hours worked and a significant increase in weekends off during the busiest periods.

Why It Matters: Investing in employee well-being ensures mentally and physically prepared teams, ultimately leading to higher performance.

What’s Next: As AI becomes more integrated into workplaces, leveraging it as a tool to alleviate stress and enhance productivity is gaining traction. CEOs are prioritizing initiatives to enhance workforce mental well-being, with GenAI potentially serving as a stress-relieving tool.

#2: Cultivating a Culture of Healthy Habits and Mental Health Conversations

Leaders play a pivotal role in destigmatizing mental health by fostering an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental well-being.

Highlights: At KPMG, we host virtual and in-person forums to raise awareness about mental health resources available to our employees, including virtual counseling sessions and innovative apps catering to various mental health needs. Efforts to destigmatize mental health encompass a range of topics, from resilience-building tips to personal narratives addressing severe mental health challenges.

Looking Ahead: To further support employees, we’re piloting free and confidential on-site counseling sessions in select offices, providing additional avenues for mental health support.

#3: Empowering Employees Through Purposeful Engagement: Encouraging and enabling employees to contribute to their communities not only benefits society but also enhances employee retention, well-being, and engagement.

Insights: Internal surveys indicate that volunteering through KPMG programs instills a sense of purpose among employees, fosters connections within the firm, and nurtures new relationships. Skills-based volunteering, such as pro bono engagements and nonprofit board service, offers employees opportunities for professional growth while contributing to meaningful causes.

The Bottom Line: By facilitating activities that promote relationship-building and purposeful engagement, employers can cultivate work friendships and foster a sense of community traditionally nurtured through in-office interactions.

In conclusion, prioritizing employee mental health and well-being is not just a moral imperative but also a strategic investment in organizational success. As we navigate this evolving landscape, let’s continue sharing insights and collaborating to create healthier and more supportive workplaces for all.