Employees struggling with mental health conditions often go unnoticed in the workplace. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), employees with unresolved depression experience a 35% reduction in productivity. STOCK PHOTO
In today’s fast-paced work environments, prioritizing mental health is crucial for overall well-being and productivity. A positive workplace culture that promotes mental wellness not only beneﬁts employees individually but also contributes to the success of the organization.
Employees struggling with mental health conditions often go unnoticed in the workplace. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), employees with unresolved depression experience a 35% reduction in productivity. This, along with other factors such as absenteeism, reduced productivity, extended leaves of absence and medical expenses, contributes to a loss of $210.5 billion for the U.S. economy each year.
When mental health issues arise, many factors can lead to negative effects on the overall stability of the company and its people. For example:
• Increased Employee Absenteeism: The APA indicates that depression causes an average of 31.4 missed days per year for an individual. Mentally distressed workers are 3.5 times more likely to suffer from substance use disorders, which could lead to additional workday absences.
• Increased Presenteeism: Coming to work when one is sick, injured or unable to function at full capacity adds up to another 27.9 days (about 4 weeks) lost each year due to lowered productivity.
• Increased Employee Turnover: More than half of employees do not have accessible support services, which may contribute to turnover due to overloaded employees and decreased production. Considering the average expense of hiring and training a new employee is estimated at $4,700, it’s economical for businesses to retain their existing employees.
Prioritizing mental health in the workplace is not just a responsibility, it’s an investment in the overall success and longevity of both the employees and the organization. This includes physical, emotional, social and spiritual health, and work/life balance. Researchers have found that employees who strongly agree that their employer cares about their overall well-being are:
• Three times more likely to be engaged at work
• 69% less likely to actively search for a new job
• 71% less likely to report experiencing burnout
• Five times more likely to strongly advocate for their company as a place to work
• Five times more likely to trust the leadership of their organization
• 36% more likely to be thriving in their overall lives
By implementing the following strategies, workplaces can create a positive, supportive and mentally healthy environment for all. Examples of this may include:
• Employee assistance programs can be utilized to provide staff with complimentary talk therapy/counseling sessions.
• Companies may provide continued education or wellness programs to support employee growth and wellbeing.
• Flexible work arrangements, such as full or partial remote work options, to enhance work/life balance can help alleviate stress and support mental well-being.
• Providing dedicated mental health burnout days can further encourage employees to prioritize their wellbeing.
• Providing avenues where employees can share transparent feedback anonymously and ensuring employers are acting on common concerns.
• Employee recognition programs such as tenure recognition, PTO, Employee of the Month and Annual Recognition Awards, go a long way in helping employees feel valued and appreciated in the work setting.
By incorporating these measures, employers can contribute to a workplace where mental health is prioritized. As companies look toward the future, they should recognize that there is no going back to the way things were before. Mental health support is essential to the way employees work. As a result, offering in-depth mental health plans is likely to be a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining talent. In Calm’s 2021 survey on workplace mental health, 76% of respondents indicated mental health beneﬁts to be a critical concern when evaluating new jobs.
Today’s employees expect employers to help them live great lives. Employers who look out for their employees’ well-being see an abundance of beneﬁts, including higher productivity and proﬁtability as well as lower turnover and fewer incidents.
Elizabeth Dosoretz, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker.