Beyond Quiet Quitting: How to foster a workplace culture that prioritizes mental health in 2023

By: Amanda Cruz

“Okay boomer,” are the words you might hear if you ask someone under 30 to put in long work hours or take on more extra responsibilities on the job. Often (and not always accurately) called “quiet-quitting”, this social-media-driven trend encourages people to prioritize their own well-being over their job.

While “quiet quitting” is an extreme example, trends like this are a sign that people want workplace mental health prioritized more than ever before. On the legislative front, many states are encouraging employers to support employee mental health better. For example, in California, the Mental health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission was tasked with creating voluntary workplace mental health standards, thanks to Senate Bill 1113, sponsored by the Steinberg Institute.

Anyone championing mental health awareness plays a part in promoting mental wellness at work, and helpful resources are available.

In 2022, the U.S. Surgeon General released a framework to guide employers in supporting mental health and well-being in the workplace. The guide outlines five essential components of this goal. Each component highlights two human needs that employers should take into account in their workplace and culture:

  1. Protection from harm

The first essential centers on the human need for safety and security. Ways that employers can meet these needs include:

  • Promoting physical and psychological safety at work
  • Providing mental health support

2. Connection & Community

The second essential covers the human need for social support and belonging. Employers can foster this component by:

  • Creating a culture of inclusion and community among employees
  • Cultivating trusted relationships
  • Fostering collaboration and teamwork

3. Work-Life Harmony

The third essential element relates to the human need for autonomy and flexibility.

  • Avoid micromanaging and allow flexible autonomy for completing work
  • Make work schedules are flexible and predictable as possible

4. Mattering at Work

The fourth component is about the human need for dignity and meaning. Employers can prioritize these needs by:

  • Providing a living wage
  • Building a culture of gratitude and recognition
  • Connecting individual work to organizational mission

5. Opportunity for Growth

The fifth component centers on the human need for accomplishment and learning. Employers can support this need by:

  • Offering opportunities for professional development
  • Ensuring relevant, reciprocal feedback

The Steinberg Institute team has been working to prioritize mental wellness. Our effort includes defining our workplace culture and principles.

From 2021–2022 our staff went through a process of developing principles creating a workplace culture of respect, autonomy, personal responsibility, and community. Professional coach Beth Anstandig from The Circle Up Experience facilitated the process, ensuring each staff member was able to contribute to creating these principles.

Building a workplace culture that supports the mental health of everyone is an ongoing process. If you’re looking for additional guidance to create a work environment that drives well-being and mental health, this resource site from the Office of the Surgeon General is a good place to start.

SI staff and founder Darrell Steinberg walking for mental health at NAMI Walks 2022

SI staff and founder Darrell Steinberg walking for mental health at NAMI Walks 2022


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