The pandemic pushed mental health to the forefront of workplace conversation. Mental health support at work is no longer a nice-to-have, it's a must-have.

As workers return to the office full-time or in a hybrid model, leaders are rethinking work-life balance and what it means to truly prioritize mental health in the workplace.

This is a reset moment that will reverberate for decades to come. Mental health has become a centerpiece in the war for talent and companies now know that employee well-being is inextricably tied to their bottom lines.

The Talkspace Employee Stress Check Report., which polled 1,400 full-time employees in the U.S., shows that a majority find work to be too stressful and are burned out by it -- even two years after Covid-19 first rocked our workplaces. Policies related to Covid, staff turnover, and other fluctuations are requiring employees to operate in a constant state of change.

So what can employers do to put mental health support into practice?

1. Make managers a critical part of the solution

Managers are one of the most critical groups employees turn to for support. Employees who say their managers take steps to protect their mental health are significantly more likely to find their work fulfilling (86 percent) and less likely to feel stressed or burned out by work (41 percent), according to the survey's findings.

Managers can build resource awareness and encourage usage around mental health programs. Moreover, they can model good behavior and habits -- not only in terms of setting the right expectations about work-life balance but also by giving employees permission to put their mental health first. Good leadership on mental health (i.e., limiting after-hours communications) makes the adoption of those behaviors more likely throughout the organization.

2. Make time off a top priority 

A culture and management style that prioritizes wellness and growth alongside traditional business drivers like profits and performance is critical to the post-pandemic workforce. Fifty-seven percent of all workers -- including 66 percent of those who want to quit -- would be likely to stay at a job if it offered more mental health services.

Beyond offering access to mental health care, employers should foster environments that allow workers to take time to rest and recharge. In fact, nearly 3 in 4 workers (74 percent) say more paid time off, like mental health days, would make them consider staying at their jobs. While offering additional days may not be possible, examine whether your employees are fully using their allocated vacation or PTO and set an example, as managers, that these days are critical to your own work-life balance.

3. Start conversations with "How are you?"

You can encourage mental health conversation by exercising genuine care and empathy. This simple phrase can help you connect with your team members and provide a way to discuss any resources you provide, as well as encourage employees to use them. Each employee is unique and will benefit from different resources and approaches. For example, Gen-Z employees and working parents are among the most burned out in offices (73 percent and 53 percent, respectively). But employees struggling to balance working and parenting will need different types of assistance than Gen-Z employees who may find learning while working remotely to be an isolating experience. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.

4. Offer mental health training

Employees greatly benefit from training on mental health at work. This both familiarizes them with tools to manage their mental health and helps normalize mental health conversations within the company. Putting employees in a position to maximize their mental health benefits is a win-win for employers and workers alike.

Employers who adequately support employee well-being are more likely to see positive impacts on productivity, time management, and other key factors that lead to better workplace outcomes and employee retention. To keep up, employers will need to listen to employees, be receptive to change, and offer new ways to support employee success and mental wellness.

Here's the bottom line: The prioritization of mental health in the workplace is here to stay, and it's incumbent on employers to step up and meet the moment -- not just for the sake of their company culture, but for their balance sheets too.