Mental health resources at work decease absenteeism and increase employee productivity.
The prevalence of mental health in the workplace is at the forefront of studies and conversations alike. Workers agree, being supported by their company when it comes to mental well-being is a great thing. Researchers also see the benefit for the company—an effort to invest in mental health means workers are happier and more productive. So, why aren’t more companies doing it?
Juliette Portala, writer for Reuters, covered a study in England citing an egregious lack of mental health support in British companies. Portala writes, “Only three companies out of 20 have published objectives for employee mental health management despite clear evidence. CCLA’s new investor benchmark, which assessed 100 of the world’s largest listed firms, showed a disconnect between their recognition of workers’ mental health as an important business issue and formalized public commitments and disclosure.”
Even with ‘clear evidence’ tying productivity to employee well-being, companies still neglect this unique opportunity. Not only will it be a benefit, investing in employees also shores up potential losses. Mental health for employees should be a win-win for employers, and they still have a chance to turn things around.
On the flip side, bad mental health can be costly for employers, with a recent report citing, “Estimates show that untreated mental illness may cost companies up to $300 billion annually, largely due to impacts on productivity, absenteeism, and increases in medical and disability expenses.”
While untreated mental illness certainly is a problem for employee and employer alike, it isn’t an impossible fix. Dr Janet Ahn, experienced experimental social psychologist, and Tessa West, associate professor of psychology, give some clear advice to companies looking to improve how they approach mental health.
First, companies can add more certainty to their lines of communication. Instead of just asking to meet, i.e., a boss can tell their employee the exact reason for the meeting. Dr. West writes, “Uncertainty-based stress is one of the most significant sources of stress at work—especially if that uncertainty comes from above.”
Companies can also give their staff clearer benchmarks, boosting competency in the workplace. West writes that, “Most people work best when they have clear action plans.” These changes may seem small, but their impact is anything but miniscule.
Any company looking to invest in their employees’ mental health can have an easy time doing so. Dr. Ahn goes on to include purpose on the list of ways to improve an employee’s day to day. While many are under the impression jobs bring purpose, studies show connections with coworkers brings an employee their greatest sense of belonging. By finding new ways to connect colleagues to each other, companies can do a lot of good for their work environments.
Mental health management may seem like a hefty task, but it isn’t insurmountable. By adding these small changes, businesses may see both an uptick in profit and productivity. Workers aim to be happier, and they produce more when they are.