From the invited communist SHANE JACKSON, president of Jackson Healthcare and co-founder of goBeyondProfit.
At the height of the pandemic, we witnessed heroic efforts and excruciating fatigue throughout the medical industry by doctors and nurses who provided care at the bedside, as well as those who support them. We hoped that once the pandemic receded, we would breathe a sigh of relief and recover.
Unfortunately, we are only now beginning to realize the impact the experience of the past two years is having on everyone. As employers, we have witnessed first-hand the unprecedented strain that is causing many people to leave their profession. As a provider of mental health services, we have witnessed a dramatic increase in demand with too few practitioners available to meet the need. The result of these two occurring simultaneously has created a mental health crisis unlike anything our country has experienced.
In the summer of 2020, during some of the darkest days of quarantines and lockdowns, the nationwide business alliance goBeyondProfit began asking people about their mental health. In that initial survey, respondents shared that they were worried, but still described their mental health as generally positive. This prospect is now declining.
In a recent survey, goBeyondProfit reports that 30 percent of working Georgians surveyed say they are likely to quit their job in the next six months, with 38 percent saying compensation is influencing their decision. What stands out is the second reason. About 35 percent—about the same number who chose compensation—say their mental health is playing a role in why they will look for a new job.
It’s no surprise that people are struggling with mental health challenges right now. That they would cite it as a top reason for looking for a new job should be a wake-up call to all businesses.
Earlier this year, Georgia lawmakers put on a commendable display of bipartisanship by passing legislation aimed at increasing access to mental health professionals in our state. It is good that our government is doing its part to deal with this crisis, but any results of the state’s efforts will take years. For Georgia businesses and workers, the crisis is now.
This latest goBeyondProfit poll also asks Georgians which institutions they trust to do what is right. Only 36 percent say they trust the state government. Conversely, 65 percent say they trust their employers to do what is right. And an incredible 75 percent of Georgians trust their employers to go beyond what is right and help solve the societal problems we collectively face.
If you run a business in Georgia, here’s what you need to hear. Your employees are burned and injured. They trust you to help them, but if you don’t, they will leave. It’s as simple as that.
So what should business leaders do?
Employees certainly look to their employers to help connect them with mental health professionals and other resources that can help them. Most importantly, when asked what their employers can do to really show they care, the number one answer is to offer flexibility.
This should not 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 currently in their lives.
Every business is dealing with turnover during this time of the “Great Recession”. There is a labor shortage, wage inflation is real, and businesses must make difficult decisions to balance the rising cost of labor with their ability to deliver quality to their customers. However, one thing every business leader can do is to actively try to understand what is going on in the lives of the people they work with. If businesses use their resources for their struggling employees, we can be part of the solution.
Georgia needs us.
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