Empowering your employees to prioritize mental health in the new year

Koa Health
Publish Date

A new year brings new opportunities, but it can also leave some feeling anxious and overwhelmed by the changes they want to make in the coming months. It’s estimated that 80% of people give up on their New Year’s resolutions by February,  but with the right strategy and support, you can set your team up for success.

In a recent survey of 500 senior HR managers at large organizations across the US and UK conducted by Koa Health in partnership with 3Gem Research and Insights,  74% reported plans to increase or reallocate their budget to better support the mental health of their employees, with protecting their team’s quality of life as the top motivator. 

The start of a new year is a great time to commit to embedding mental health into your organizational culture by talking more openly about wellbeing, reminding your workforce of their benefits, and guiding your people to tools and resources that can help them achieve their goals for the year ahead. Share these 4 goal-setting tips with your employees and set them up for a happier, healthier new year.

1. Set small, attainable goals

New Year’s resolutions often fail because we focus on big, long-term outcomes that seem out of our reach. Encourage employees to reflect on the lifestyle changes that they want to make or the things they want to achieve, then break those things down into smaller goals.

For those individuals who are making multiple resolutions, suggest that they try to prioritize and pare them down based on personal importance. This way they can focus their energy and attention on what matters most to them, then revisit any “back-up” goals if and when they feel ready.

2. Track and celebrate progress (not just major milestones)

Once your employees have broken down their resolutions into mini-goals and revised them to align closely with their priorities, it will be much easier for them to stay motivated and monitor progress. Recommend that they set a step-by-step plan or regular checkpoints so they know where they should be and by when. This could make a great start-of-the-year team activity, offering the opportunity to openly discuss wellbeing at work, and highlight your organization’s commitment to supporting mental health and reducing stigma.

A big part of achieving any goal is acknowledging wins of all sizes. Checking items off a list or keeping a journal can help employees by providing a visual representation of their progress and accomplishments.

3. Have a support system in place

When it comes to creating new habits, accountability and positive reinforcement can be game changers. Suggest that employees seek out a buddy—when a friend, family member, or coworker shares similar resolutions, they can help each other stay on track. Even if they’re tackling their goals solo, encourage employees to lean on loved ones when they’re feeling overwhelmed or frustrated during the process.

Making lifestyle changes, no matter how small, can be difficult. Having access to the right support at the right time can help your employees manage stress, stay motivated, and maintain a positive attitude. 79% of HR leaders surveyed saw an uptick in mental health benefits utilization in 2023, yet 68% of employees report that they don’t use existing resources to their full value because they’re too time-consuming, complex, or difficult to navigate.  Investing in mental health resources that enable employees to easily and quickly navigate to the right services and resources for their unique and ever-changing needs is key to helping them maintain a sense of wellbeing at any time of year.

4. Don’t let setbacks ruin progress

Remember that progress does not equal perfection. It’s okay (and totally normal) to slip up from time to time. The important thing is not to let those minor speed bumps turn into roadblocks. Remind employees to be kind to themselves. Be sure to underline the idea that mistakes will happen, but with a positive outlook, they’re an opportunity to learn and grow.

When progress seems slow, it can feel easier to just throw in the towel and forget our why. This is where the previous tips come into play: When your employees have a clear path to their goal and are regularly celebrating their successes, they’re more likely to stick out those moments of frustration.

Are you ready to support the mental health and wellbeing of your workforce in the year ahead? Discover key insights and predictions for the future of mental wellbeing at work from industry experts and thought leaders.

  1. https://abcnews.go.com/US/struggling-new-years-resolutions-track/story?id=96173041#:~:text=The%20failure%20rate%20for%20New,U.S%20News%20and%20World%20Report.

  2. https://info.koahealth.com/executive-summary-2024-workplace-mental-wellbeing-trends

  3. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/topics/talent/employee-wellbeing.html

about the author

Koa Health

The Team @ Koa Health

Our diverse team of developers, researchers, psychologists and behavioral health experts work together to create practical, thought-provoking content to accompany our range of digital therapeutics.