How Has Mental Health Affected Employee Engagement?

As the coronavirus pandemic ravages the world, companies have had to adjust to the new framework, moving to a more remote approach. The fear of the pandemic and stress from both private and work-related endeavors can drastically affect an employee’s ability to engage with their clients. If a CEO or manager wants their company to flourish, they have to think about their employees’ well-being; not just the potential longevity of their company. 

It’s become more important than ever to have discussions about mental health, particularly when work-life balance has been somewhat disrupted. Now, employees may have to work longer hours and miss time with family. 

In a 2020 article by Ambassify titled “Mental Health & Employee Engagement – 3 Ways to Promote Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace,” writer Damien Keane compares a runner who sprained their leg and an employee struggling with mental health: 

“When a professional runner sprains their ankle, no one expects them to shrug it off and pretend that it’s nothing. They’re expected to rest, to heal, to get to 100% before they get back out on the track. For some reason, however, this same courtesy is not extended to employees struggling with mental health issues.”

Damien Keane

For Keane, the fact that a professional runner is expected to rest, heal and get back to 100% while an employee is expected to, in his words, “shrug off their depression or their anxiety and to show up for work regardless of their mental acuity on that particular day. They’re expected to be engaged, productive, courteous, and approachable; otherwise, they’re accused of having an “attitude” that is disheartening. According to Keane, employees are expected to shrug off their depression or anxiety and show up to work engaged, which should not be taken lightly. 

Employees are supposed to engage, be productive, be courteous and approachable to their clients or prospective business partners, but how can they do that when their mental health is at risk? In the article, Keane argues that mental health is one of those issues where helping the employees also helps the “bottom line.” In addition, an employee’s mental health affects their ability to be productive, which can cause possible clients to leave and seek out a different business to work with.

According to the article, there were several studies conducted on companies’ handling of their employees’ mental health:

  1. 47% of people claim work is the most stressful part of their day.
  2. 50% of employees with anxiety can’t sustain close relationships.
  3. Depression costs companies $31 billion annually.
  4. Globally, poor mental health results in $1 trillion in lost productivity.

A company’s culture also plays a critical role in the employee’s mental health. An article by Sodexo titled “Is There a Link Between Employee Engagement and Mental Health?” notes that now more than ever, employers are doing all they can to ensure their employees have the support they need for their mental health. Now, this doesn’t apply to all companies. Some companies might already ensure their employees get the support they need. Either way, ensuring employees have the support they need for their mental health should be of the utmost importance to a business.

I would like to note that the articles I’ve researched for this specific article all talk about the same topic, whether a company’s culture affects an employee’s mental health, how the company handles an employee’s mental health, and how mental health affects employee engagement. 

In the article, there are several points that argue for ways in which companies can help employees with their mental health:

  1. Letting employees know that a mental health sick day is important as a physical one.
  2. Placing support systems in place and making them easily accessible.
  3. Mix things up.
  4. Speak face-to-face with employees about their struggles.

Each of these points presented could have lasting positive effects on an employee if handled correctly. For instance, letting employees have a “mental health sick day” would allow employees to move away from their work and focus on themselves and their families. By placing support systems at the company and making them easily accessible, companies give employees the chance to speak about what’s going on in their lives. It allows employees the chance to get whatever’s off their chest.

In the end, mental health affects employee engagement in more ways than one. If not properly handled, it could negatively affect the employee’s ability to not just engage with clients and potential business partners but also be productive and a part of their company.


“Is There a Link Between Employee Engagement and Mental Health?Sodexo, Accessed 16 May 2021. 

Keane, Damian. “Mental Health & Employee Engagement – 3 Ways to Promote Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace.Ambassify. Accessed 16 May 2021.

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash


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