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University of Phoenix and Executive Networks study on workplace well-being highlights challenges of current approaches in addressing mental health

By Sharla Hooper

2024 industry research study with human resource leaders and knowledge workers provides insights on how employers can improve workplace mental health

During Mental Health Awareness Month, University of Phoenix and Executive Networks have released the findings of the 2024 Workplace Well-Being Report, HR Misses the Mark with Employee Mental Health. Surveying human resource leaders and knowledge workers across North America, the survey examined well-being and specifically, mental health, with findings revealing how HR leaders and knowledge workers see the state of mental wellness at their organizations, and providing insights on practical actions organizations and leaders can take to help employees with mental health challenges and contribute to their overall well-being.

According to the most recent University of Phoenix Career Institute® Career Optimism Index® study, 60% of workers say their mental health impacts their performance at work.

“Employees will flourish–and be their most productive–when they work within a fair and caring culture and have both work and life satisfaction,” states Marie Gill, chief operating officer at Executive Networks and Co-founder, FLORENS: A Flourishing Collective. “Leadership can play a critical role by making well-being and mental health part of the organizational conversation.”

The survey was conducted among 500 HR leaders and 500 knowledge workers in the United States with participants evenly distributed between large, small, and mid-sized organizations and varied industries during December 2023. The study findings include discovery of a well-being gap between leaders and workers: while 83% of HR leaders rate the overall well-being of employees at their organization as good or very good, only 56% of knowledge workers do.

When it comes to the impact of a person’s job on their well-being, the study found that work-life balance was the most important factor for well-being overall, and even more so with female HR leaders (50%) than with male HR leaders (38%).

A wide array of benefits offered is not solving the challenge for many. More than 80% of HR leaders say it is “very important” or “extremely important” to offer well-being resources in the workplace, and this held across all organization sizes, genders, and generations. Strikingly, however, only 36% of organizations surveyed offer behavioral health benefits to employees.

Additionally, the study highlighted the persistence of mental health stigma – employees expect repercussions at work for seeking mental health support. Even among HR leaders, 75% of men and 56% of women feel there are repercussions on the job for seeking professional counseling.

The study also showed that employees look to leaders when it comes to mental health and well-being. In fact, 74% of HR leaders and 48% of knowledge workers would be more likely to seek professional counseling if they heard a leader at their organization share their experience doing the same.

“In cultivating a thriving workplace, we must prioritize well-being by acknowledging that every facet of an individual’s role influences their mental health,” states Raghu Krishnaiah, chief operating officer at University of Phoenix. “Going beyond the range of traditional benefits, a paradigm shift is essential to eliminate the fear of consequences associated with seeking help. As leaders, we carry the responsibility not only to openly discuss our commitment to mental health but to take tangible actions, fostering a culture that promotes professional development and protects the inherent value of each employee, thereby promoting and inspiring overall well-being.”

The study provides key recommendations for organizational action, focused on creating a supportive culture of well-being, reasonable and flexible work expectations, modeling mental wellness care, and cultivating connection. Download the complete study findings and recommendations here.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix innovates to help working adults enhance their careers and develop skills in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, skills-mapped curriculum for our bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and a Career Services for Life® commitment help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit

About Executive Networks

Executive Networks provides a comprehensive HR team-focused strategic membership program for Global 1000 companies that recognizes the professional and personal needs of the CHRO and their senior team. We help HR teams successfully navigate a dramatically more complex and challenged environment, including accelerated advances in AI. Executive Networks increases the productivity of our members by improving the quality and speed of decisions while reducing the risks associated with poor or incorrect decisions. Because we access leading expertise, thought leaders and resources, we deliver actionable innovations and strategic solutions across the organization’s entire HR team.