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US Surgeon General Recognizes the Impact of Workplace Well-being as a Public Health Issue

Uncategorized Nov 09, 2022

Throughout 2022 we’ve talked at length about some of the concerning new trends affecting the workplace in the United States. From Quiet Quitting, a term to describe those resolving to only produce what's required for their position, to The Great Resignation, we’ve already begun to address these concerns with businesses by utilizing The Culture Fix®. In a groundbreaking initiative, The United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy released a Framework for Mental Health & Well-Being in the Workplace. This action serves to outline “the foundational role that workplaces should play in promoting the health and well-being of workers and our communities”, and is a revolutionary move towards encouraging healthy workplaces across the country. 

This is huge news to come from the Surgeon General, who is recognized as the leading spokesperson on matters of public health in the federal government of the United States. In fact, this initiative is one of the top five priorities in their office, among COVID-19, Health Worker Burnout, Youth Mental Health and battling Health Misinformation in the media. Now that’s what we call priority, and we couldn’t be happier. 

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the issues plaguing the 160 million-strong workforce in the United States became more prevalent than ever. The Framework for Mental Health & Well-Being in the Workplace will hopefully play an important role in shifting how businesses prioritize and care for their stakeholders.


How we got here and why we need to reverse course:

The average full-time worker in the United States spends around half of their life at work, and it has long been recognized by The Culture Fix® that these workplaces play a big role in shaping the mental and physical well-being of each and every stakeholder. 

According to recent surveys cited in the Press Release: 

76% of U.S. workers in a 2021 survey reported at least one symptom of a mental health condition (anxiety, depression), an increase of 17 percentage points in just two years.

81% of workers reported that they will be looking for workplaces that support mental health in the future.

84% of respondents reported at least one workplace factor that had a negative impact on their mental health.

On the heels of these workplace crises and the impact they are having on the workforce, The Framework for Mental Health & Well-Being in the Workplace has been published. According to the US Surgeon General, “...this is a call to attention to a public health issue, developed to help the American public better understand and address factors that affect health”. You read that right, mental health & well-being in the workplace is now being considered a public health issue! 

Let’s dig in to the Five Essentials for Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being aimed to “help organizations develop, institutionalize, and update policies, processes, and practices that best support the mental health and well-being of all workers.”

#1 - Protection from Harm: Creating the conditions for physical and psychological safety is a critical foundation for ensuring mental health and well-being in the workplace. 

In addition to employers being encouraged to prioritize both physical and psychological safety, including enabling adequate rest, the Surgeon General highlights the importance of normalizing mental health support. Also under this essential is the importance of operationalizing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) norms, policies, and programs. A focus on DEIA matters have been and continue to be an important key to ensuring a feeling of safety in the workplace. 


#2 - Connection & Community: Fostering positive social interaction and relationships in the workplace supports worker well-being. 

Beyond cultivating trusted relationships and fostering collaboration in the workplace, this Essential encourages creating cultures of inclusion and belonging. That is music to our ears! Whether businesses simply follow the guidance of the Surgeon General or implement The Culture Fix®, this is fundamental in creating a Valued Culture. 


#3 - Work-Life Harmony: Professional and personal roles can create work and non-work conflicts.

Simply put: by providing more autonomy over how and when work is done, and respecting boundaries between work and non-work time, your stakeholders will be happier. When employers show trust, respect and appreciation for their employees, more often than not, the employees return that favor with productivity, loyalty and pride.  


#4 - Mattering at Work: People want to know that they matter to those around them and that their work matters. Knowing you matter has been shown to lower stress, while feeling like you do not can increase the risk for depression. 

If you’re a follower of The Culture Fix®, this Essential probably sounds familiar. That’s because making sure your employees know they matter is a driving force behind creating a CorePurpose™. In fact, let's look at all four of the subpoints of this Essential: 

  1. Provide a living wage
  2. Engage workers in workplace decisions
  3. Build a culture of gratitude and recognition (Notice and Nominate™, anyone?!) 
  4. Connect individual work with organizational mission


#5 - Opportunities for Growth: When organizations create more opportunities for workers to accomplish goals based on their skills and growth, workers become more optimistic about their abilities and more enthusiastic about contributing to the organization.

In addition to offering quality training and mentoring to fostering and enabling career advancement, the final point of the fifth Essential encourages employers to ‘Ensure relevant, reciprocal feedback’. It is not only important to use CoreVals™ to structure positive feedback sessions, but to use your values and CoreScore™ to facilitate conversations that may be a little more difficult.     


One Small Step for Workers, One Giant Step for a Culture-First Workplace 

By focusing on culture, you eliminate ineffective patterns, set a more positive course, and then that course perpetuates all on its own. Hopefully, with this new culture-focused initiative from the Surgeon General, we will be seeing an increase in The Culture Fix® in coming years.  According to Dr. Murthy, “Employers have a unique opportunity not only to invest in the mental health and well-being of their workforce, but also to strengthen their organizations’ success by doing so.”

Well, if the Surgeon General says so!  


While the Framework for Mental Health & Well-Being in the Workplace provides clear parameters for what all organizations should provide to their stakeholders, we understand that deciding how to start implementing changes can be overwhelming. The Culture Fix® exists to not only provide your team with a clear pathway, but also guide you through a transformational process in just 90 days. We know you care about your people, which is why we support you in helping your team love where they work, why they work, and who they work with. Contact us today for a complimentary culture assessment and together we will design the best pathway for your business to achieve these goals. 

Are you a coach looking for a framework that will help your clients achieve these 5 workplace essentials? If so, learn more about how The Culture Fix Academy™ can enhance your coaching practice.

Check out the full resource from the US Surgeon General HERE


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