Staff wellbeing programs are part of any organisation´s employee mental health and wellbeing strategy. Many businesses are doing a great job at the physical side of things (flu jabs, exercise programs, fruit bowls in the office), but unfortunately the psychological side of things often gets forgotten or gets lumped together with yoga or mindfulness sessions.
So why is improving staff wellbeing programs, particularly programs related to your staff´s mental health good for business?
Given the statistics of the prevalence of mental health in the workplace (1 in 6 working Australians experience a mental health issue at any given time), it is very probable that you are currently working with or managing someone who may have a mental health condition, and if not now, then at some point in your career. Did you know that anxiety is the most common mental illness (14%), followed by depression (6%) and substance abuse (5%), and that suicide is the most common cause of death for our young men (aged 15-24)? Unfortunately, it also seems, that these figures are continuing to rise rather than decline
Even with the many celebrities opening up about their challenges with their own mental health conditions, mental health workplace training initiatives and an increasing awareness by employers about their responsibility for employee mental health, research shows that the majority of us (69%) still wouldn´t feel okay with letting our employers know we have a mental health condition, and in fact, 35% of us would not even disclose it. For those of us who´ve had any time off because of a mental health condition, 48% didn´t let anyone at work know the reason why and that´s not good.
If you start to add up the costs that are associated with sick days, drops in productivity and engagement, it costs businesses a lot of money. In fact, it´s estimated it costs Australian businesses about $11B annually and with a 2014 study finding that 39% of businesses reported increases in absences related to stress, anxiety and depression had increased in the past year, this figure is predicted to keep increasing. It doesn´t end there, the flow on effects of absenteeism have a much wider impact than just financially – customer service, sales and production can all be impacted, extra workloads for the staff that are actually at work result in increases in their stress levels which may then also impacts their wellbeing and health which can lead to further absenteeism…you start to get the picture.
The good news is that with strategic staff wellbeing programs, including effective mental health workplace training programs,you can help to increase awareness of mental health amongst your employees, improve staff mental health and resilience, proactively support your employees experiencing a mental health condition at work and start to turn the tide on some of the above mentioned statistics in your business.
Business benefits of staff wellbeing programs
With the right support and treatment, people with mental health issues can effectively function most of the time in the workplace. The business benefits of having a mentally healthy workplace and having staff wellbeing programs include:
- having physically and mentally healthier and happier employees
- better customer service (because your staff are happier and healthier)
- improved productivity and engagement
- decreased absenteeism, staff-turn over and psychological injury claims
- reduced incident costs
- having a reputation as being a great place to work
But most of all, staff wellbeing programs have a positive impact on your bottom line. Specifically, mental health initiatives have been shown to provide a positive return on investment of up to $15 (depending on your industry) for every $1 spent. So if you spend $10,000 on a mental health workplace training course you could see up to $150,000 in gains in productivity and reduced claims. Having a positive ROI means the gains for your business are greater than the cost of implementing the staff wellbeing program which is good news for business owners, executives, managers and employees alike.
If you or someone you know needs help contact your organisation´s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), your GP or call LifeLine on 13 11 14; Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800; MensLineAustralia on 1300 789 978; Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
Disclaimer: The information provided in this document is not intended to be legal advice and should not be interpreted as such. Managers and businesses should seek appropriate counsel from relevant HR and legal personnel if they do not feel they have the applied knowledge for lawfully managing mental health issues in the workplace. In addition to the information provided, it is important to be fully aware of all relevant legislations and the requirements in your specific state or territory and your organisations applicable policies and procedures.