According to the Centers for Disease Control, 18.8 million American adults—or nearly 10 percent of the American adult population—will suffer from a depressive illness in a given year. Of the 55-and-over set, that proportion rises to 20 percent. Meanwhile, 80 percent of persons with depression report some level of functional impairment related to their depression, and 27 reported serious difficulties in their home life or at work. And in 2017, the CDC warned serious psychological distress is on the rise in America, while access to care is shrinking. (One researcher even characterized the rise of mental illness in America as "meteoric.") Despite these dire statistics, many companies are still ill-prepared to support their employees in maintaining mental wellness. Luckily for them, flexibility provides a powerful and comprehensive solution.

Aside from the moral implications of ignoring employee mental health, the business costs can be huge. The CDC reports that in a three-month timeframe, patients with depression miss an average of 4.8 workdays and experience 11.5 days of reduced productivity. In fact, depression is estimated to cause 200 million lost workdays each year, costing employers $17 to 44 billion.

Enter flexibility. By making employees’ workday schedules adaptive to their unique flexibility types, employers can help workers help themselves, so to speak. In fact, each of the six flex types in the Flexiverse is applicable to the mental health conversation. MicroAgility™ and TimeShift™ allow employees to rearrange their working hours—to seek counseling and other mental health treatment, for example. Through location independence or location variety, Remote and DeskPlus™ offer employees a reprieve from the stress of workday commutes and office distractions. TravelLite™ puts a limit on the amount of business travel taking employees away from home. And PartTime allows employees to reduce their work schedule without reducing the scope or ambition of their work.

In our study of nearly 1,600 white-collar workers in the U.S. across a variety of demographics and firmographics, we found that current workday structures are making it challenging for people to care for themselves—and as a result, they’re unable to do their best work. 30 percent of employees are unable to attend recurring health appointments, 29 percent are not performing optimally in their roles, 29 percent are unable to perform sustainably over time, and 29 percent are unable to bring their whole selves to work. We also discovered a broader flexibility gap that affects the majority of the workforce: 96 percent of all employees need flexibility but only 42 percent can access the flexibility type they need.

To help organizations assess whether employees are getting access to the flexibility they need, we developed FlexMatch™, a flexibility insights platform that helps companies use data to optimize the workday and drive better business results. Additionally, FlexMatch also reveals which flexibility types are most in demand throughout an organization and provides individualized FlexType reports for each employee.

Are you ready to take the lead on supporting mental wellness within your organization? Sign up for a FlexMatch demo today.