Monster Poll: Majority of workers say mental health at work is suffering

From toxic workplaces to job loss fears, a new Monster poll finds that employees aren’t in a good mental place at work

The COVID-19 public health emergency ended in early May, but employees aren’t feeling like the worst is behind them. Sixty-three percent of workers say their mental health at work is poor or fair, according to a new Monster survey of workers, conducted in April 2023.

Toxic workplaces, bad managers, and fears of being laid off, all contribute to negative mental health at work, the survey found. Here are Monster’s insights:

Employees Find Their Workplaces Toxic

Sixty-three percent of workers feel they work in a toxic environment, according to Monster’s numbers. And workers would rather quit (57%), be laid off (32%), or take a salary cut (23%) to avoid working in a toxic environment.

“The pandemic exacerbated so many problems,” says Jill Santopietro Panall, a human resources consultant at 21Oak HR Consulting. “It opened up some additional layers of stress for people. A lot of workplaces were not very flexible or were unkind to people during that time.”

In addition to stress, the pandemic also made people reevaluate their priorities — which didn’t necessarily include working long hours for an employer that didn’t value them.

“One of the things the pandemic taught us is that life is short,” Panall says. “People are like, ‘Why do I want to sit here and be yelled at? Why would I want to stay in a place that feels toxic?’”

Workers Think Their Employers Could Do More

Seventy-five percent of workers don’t think their employer is doing enough to address their mental health at work.

“The pandemic brought about this huge burst of people asking for more time off and more mental health time. Everyone’s problems were magnified greatly,” Panall says. “I think a lot of employers just do not know what to do.”

Joseph Galasso, a clinical psychologist and CEO of Baker Street Behavioral Health, points out that mental health is also a big gray area for employers — they’re not allowed to ask about someone’s mental health, but they’re expected to provide resources in the case that someone needs help. “They’re struggling to figure out how to make their employees happy, how to provide them with what they need, and how to keep up with the cost,” Galasso says.

Workers Give Their Mental Health a Thumbs Down

Sixty-three percent of workers say their mental health at work is poor (35%) or fair (28%), according to Monster’s survey. There are several contributing factors:

  • 63% of workers say that a toxic work culture is to blame for their negative mental health.
  • 56% of workers say that a fear of being laid off or the current economy has contributed to their poor to fair state of mental health.
  • 53% of workers blame a bad manager for their negative mental health.
  • 50% of workers say that a lack of growth opportunities has contributed to their negative mental health.
  • 36% of workers say that staffing shortages are at fault.

“I do think every workplace can benefit from seeing these results and really take stock that we have human beings working for us and with us,” Galasso says. “We just need to take care of each other right now. It’s not hard to check in with each other at the beginning of meetings, in the hallways, over Zoom, however we’re meeting. If we humanize our experience we will see these numbers go down.”

Employers Can Address Mental Health

In a tight talent market where good workers are hard to find (and keep), it’s important for employers to take steps to address worker needs. In terms of mental health, there are a variety of best practices to consider:

  • Conduct a “stay” interview. Schedule regular check-ins with your employees to ask them what’s fulfilling about their jobs and what they wish was different. “In an exit interview, you ask a series of questions about what prompted their decision,” says Maureen Calabrese, chief people officer at mental health platform Modern Health. “In a stay interview, you would do the same thing, but through the lens of trying to retain that person.”
  • Communicate. Make sure there’s regular and transparent communication through all channels in terms of how the company is performing, the company’s goals and how everything fits into that framework. This allows people to understand how their work contributes to the company’s vision. “By doing that, you’re able to really drive up the level of engagement,” Calabrese says.
  • Walk the walk. If worker mental health is important to you, make sure your employees know that you support them, that there’s help available if they need it, and that everyone knows how to access that help. In fact, make it a part of your employee value proposition.

Learn More About Employer Branding

From communicating your company’s dedication to employee mental health to honing your messaging on EAPs and worker engagement, Monster’s Employer Branding Guide can answer all of your questions about creating a branding strategy that brings in the best talent. Download today to learn more.