New Study: 68% of HR Leaders Prioritize Employee Mental Health: Shifting the Focus from Organizational Priorities to Human Needs

U.S. survey of more than 200 HR leaders identifies 5 strategic priorities placing HR at the center of business transformation

(Graphic: Business Wire)

NEW YORK--()--The turmoil of the past year has uncovered striking changes among HR leader’s priorities, according to the second annual HR Sentiment Survey conducted by Lyra Health, Boston University and Future Workplace, an advisory and membership organization that prepares HR leaders for the future of work. The study of over 200 senior HR leaders across the U.S. found a shift of priorities from the early months of COVID-19 2020 to currently where the focus has moved to employee well-being, mental health and DEI, and reshaping the HR priorities.

2021 Signals a Priority Shift as HR Leaders Prepare for the Hybrid Workplace

As companies adopt new models and paradigms for the hybrid workplace, the focus is shifting from organizational issues to individual human concerns.

“As we move to the next normal of a hybrid workplace, focusing on employee well-being will be crucial for leaders to create inclusive experiences for all employees regardless of where, when or how they work,” explained Jeanne Meister, Managing Partner, Future Workplace.

This tidal transition is most apparent when comparing the top five strategic priorities from 2020 and 2021.

2020 HR Sentiment Survey Top 5 Priorities


2021 HR Sentiment Survey Top 5 Priorities

1. Employee Experience


1. Employee Well-being / Mental Health

2. Leadership Development


2. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

3. Learning Transformation


3. Leadership Development

4. Next Generation Leaders


4. Employee Experience

5. People Analytics


5. Manage Remote Workers

"The past year thrust mental health into the spotlight as a universal issue with significant implications for individuals, teams, and entire organizations, which is why the conversation has expanded from HR benefits leaders to the boardroom," said Dr. Joe Grasso, Ph.D., Senior Director of Workforce Mental Health at Lyra Health. "Employers should strategically align their leaders, culture initiatives, management practices, and resources to specifically support the mental health and well-being of their employees."

A New Look at HR Resource Allocation

Plus, a whopping 90% of organizations surveyed have already instituted, or have plans to institute formal training on return-to-office protocols. but according to HR leaders, more still needs to be done. When HR leaders were would invest more this year if they were able to double their budget, the following 5 areas were identified as key categories;

  • 44% - employee experience
  • 37% - improving existing technology
  • 34% - investing in DEI
  • 31% - upskilling/next generation leadership
  • 27% - coaching employees

“The pandemic has marked a massive shift in strategic priorities in the workplace,” said Fred K. Foulkes, Faculty Director, Human Resource Policy Institute Professor, Management & Organizations Professor of Organizational Behavior, Questrom School of Business at Boston University. “Companies that do not adopt new models and paradigms will struggle to retain top talent and succeed as a business.”

The eBook, 2021 HR Sentiment Survey: Five Strategic Priorities for the Hybrid Workplace is here.


Future Workplace, in partnership with Lyra Health and the Boston University Questrom School of Business Human Resource Planning Institute (HRPI), surveyed more than 200 US based HR professionals, of which 40% were Chief Human Resource Officers, Chief Learning Officers or Chief Talent Officers.

About Lyra Health

Lyra Health is a leading provider of innovative mental health benefits for over 2.2 million employees and dependents. Leading employers partner with Lyra to deliver frictionless, value-driven mental health benefits to their people. With Lyra, you can offer employees fast, reliable access to providers who practice evidence-based care.

About Future Workplace

Future Workplace ™ is an HR advisory and membership firm unlocking the potential of HR and Learning team members by expanding their skills in Future Workplace Academy, optimizing their peer networks and preparing them for the future of work. For more details, visit

About Boston University Questrom School of Business HRPI

The Human Resources Policy Institute (HRPI) at Boston University is a network of faculty, HR executives, fellows, and graduate students that bridge the gap between industry and academics, and ensures HR stays ahead for the future.


Jenny Olson

Release Summary

New Study: 68% of HR Leaders Prioritize Employee Mental Health: Shifting the Focus from Organizational Priorities to Human Needs


Jenny Olson