A year of historic challenges and unprecedented grief during the coronavirus pandemic is taking a toll on workers' mental health.
Many companies have responded to workers' heightened stress by rolling out new benefits, ranging from access to virtual therapy and meditation apps to offering resources like resilience training videos. And according to a new report from Udemy for Business, a learning and development platform, workers have been devouring virtual training courses that help them learn soft skills to better manage their mental health and wellness.
The learning platform found that, between 2019 and 2020, the number of hours logged for courses that teach anxiety management alone jumped by nearly 4,000%. Demand for courses that teach people other soft skills including resilience and stress management also saw triple-digit growth.
Here are the top mental health and wellness skills that saw the biggest jumps in demand in the last year.
- Anxiety management: +3,867%
- Resilience: +1,296%
- Stress management: +1,015%
- Meditation: +886%
- Mindfulness: +784%
Demand for learning mental health skills has grown exponentially in some industries with essential workforces, the Udemy for Business report finds. For example, demand for courses that teach stress management skills grew 5,408% among users who work in the health care industry.
Some of the site's course collections that center on mental health help workers improve their emotional intelligence, learn about yoga, practice meditation and build a mindful breathing practice. Udemy for Business also offers a series that addresses mental health and coping with stress and anxiety as it relates to the coronavirus pandemic directly.
As employers figure out how to best support their employees as the coronavirus pandemic continues into 2021, experts say investments that help workers prioritize and improve their mental wellness can have a lasting impact on the workforce, as well as business costs overall. According to one economic analysis, for every dollar spent on wellness programs, companies can expect their health-care costs to decrease by approximately $3.27.
With that said, a recent McKinsey report finds that while 96% of companies globally say they've already made changes to their HR policies and increased employee resources during the pandemic, only 1 in 6 employees report feeling supported. Meanwhile, 62% of employees globally "consider mental health issues a top challenge."
McKinsey's report gives additional advice on how employers can better help workers, particularly those most impacted by the health crisis, including by rethinking expectations on worker productivity and performance, expanding benefits like paid time off, and supporting employees in establishing boundaries between work and home life.