Use Employee Engagement Instead of Surveys to Gather Workplace Mental Health Insights

Use Employee Engagement Instead of Surveys to Gather Workplace Mental Health Insights


By Aaron Corte LMSW – Psychotherapist and Mental Wellness Consultant

How do you know how your employees are doing?


With burnout and stress at record highs, this question has never been more important. The most successful companies are able to gather this information and implement solutions that retain their talent and increase workforce productivity.


But workplace wellness is complex, and getting this feedback isn’t easy. People aren’t exactly lining up to share about their mental health challenges…


For leaders who really care, this puts you in the role of detective. So let’s explore how to piece together the clues.


Time and time again we see the stats that say something like:

This (high percentage) of leaders believe they’re doing enough for mental health…
While only (lower percentage) of employees agree…


If the employee experience is as important as we imagine, why is there this disconnect around such important information?


Well, that’s complicated. It could be the industry, culture, leadership personalities, communication systems, etc..


But let’s ignore that question for a moment, and ask it in a different way:


How do we get leaders to better understand what employees are really experiencing?


Well if you want to know something, you make a survey – right?




At least in this case.


As a therapist, I’ll let you in on a little secret of how things go in the therapy room.


When we do our assessments (such as evaluating anxiety or depression levels) we don’t send our client home to complete them alone. That would be isolating. Instead we go through the questionnaire there, together.


Because people experiencing mental health issues often don’t open up in surveys or prompts. It’s impersonal, and it’s exhausting.


Now imagine having a mental health disorder and now being asked to do this, at work!


If we want to get the real understanding of how people are doing, and how it’s impacting their work, we want an approach that does a few things:

  • Engages employees in a safe environment
  • Encourages comfort with opening up/vulnerability
  • Asks employees the right questions


There are various ways to structure a data-gathering response that meets these needs. They could be 1 on 1 coaching calls, or a workplace forum.


The trick with mental health is you want people to feel comfortable enough opening up, but also be able to see that they’re not the only one that experiences challenges.


For this reason, online group formats can be helpful. You can facilitate workshops that protect employee anonymity while also showing how their responses may be shared by others.


You also want this to be led by a trained professional, someone qualified to understand the difference between wellness and mental health.


In my case, I extend how I assess my individual therapy evaluations to entire organizations.


I use a customized diagnostic tool that’s tailored to workplace-specific wellness and mental health issues. It’s technically a survey, but because of the interactive format, it doesn’t feel like one.


Not only does this gather the crucial info that a normal survey can’t attain, but in a workshop format we can also provide tools in the moment to address any issues that come up in our “survey.”


This creates an interactive learning experience for people, and gives them immediate resources.


Remember from above, you want engagement, comfort, and expertise. Because of this, I recommend seeking out a consultant who can help you gather this important information on mental wellness in your workplace.

Aaron Corte is a Workplace Wellness Engagement Expert. He uses his background as a licensed psychotherapist to help employees improve their mental wellness, while showing leaders how to make better informed mental wellness investments that bring real return on investment. Prior to becoming a mental health professional, Aaron worked for various start-ups. After personally experiencing chronic stress, he discovered his passion for helping hard working individuals manage their stress. Aaron also studied Vipassana Meditation in Thailand, and combines his psychotherapy expertise with mindfulness practice. Aaron uses a dual approach to workplace wellness, engaging workforces directly with education and resources, while also working closely with leadership to help shape larger strategic organizational and cultural change. For more information visit: