In most industries, especially in the United States, business is looked at as a highly competitive endeavor. This puts pressure on the people in charge to push to maximize productivity, margins and revenue in order to stay competitive. Naturally, these goals can impact the welfare of employees, with many experiencing chronic stress from constantly working to meet the high demands of their employers. In an area dominated by the bottom line, at what point does employee mental health enter the equation, and can it have an effect on your ability to succeed as a business?
Here, we’ll explore how mental health and a functional workplace are inherently related and give you five reasons why investing in employee mental health is important.
How Work and Mental Health Are Intertwined
Mental health in the workplace is more important than you might think. Here’s why.
Work Culture’s Effects on Mental Health
The workplace culture you have a responsibility to control can have a serious effect on your employees’ quality of life. In the competitive workplace, high-stress situations are common. While not all stress is bad — stress can be a motivating factor when it’s controlled and limited — constantly being under deadlines and demands creates chronic stress. Long-term or chronic stress has been linked with all kinds of negative consequences, especially when it comes to a person’s mental health. Insomnia, depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions can develop and worsen under ongoing stressful conditions.
Mental Health Stigma in the Workplace
Additionally, an ultra-competitive culture makes it seem less acceptable for an employee to ask for help with both job-related tasks and their own well-being. Industries that are viewed as more fast-paced and competitive are linked with stronger stigmas that associate the act of seeking mental health resources with personal weakness.
Poor Employee Mental Health Is Costing You Money
Although you may not personally notice the trickle-down effects of poor mental health on your business, the statistics are impossible to ignore. The World Health Organization estimates that the global economy loses around $1 billion per year from productivity losses due to depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions.
5 Reasons to Invest in Mental Health at Your Company
Supporting employee mental health is the right thing to do from the standpoint of making sure you provide a great place to work. It also offers tangible benefits to your business.
1. Supporting Mental Health Raises Productivity
The WHO data above suggests that mental health-friendly initiatives may boost productivity in the workplace. That’s what a study published in Labour Direct in 2017 found as well, demonstrating that diminished employee mental health is directly linked with higher rates of absenteeism and poor job performance.
2. Mental Health Resources Bring in Talent
Companies that offer comprehensive benefits typically garner more interest from job seekers than those that don’t. Most recruiters can tell you that a competitive benefits package is a baseline requirement for attracting the talent you need to stay competitive in your industry. A commitment to mental health for your employees is one of more attractive benefits you can offer — it’s a statement of your commitment to employee well-being.
3. You Can Prevent Burnout
In many cases, burnout — the loss of motivation and satisfaction with a given job — is not something that can be reversed. Once a person becomes disillusioned with their daily occupation, it’s hard to regain enthusiasm, and this often leads to a person quitting their job in response to feeling burned out. High turnover is never conducive to productive output for a company, so it’s in your best interest to prevent burnout.
Fortunately, burnout is preventable. Often, it happens not because an employee no longer likes what they’ve chosen as a career but because of conditions related to their current job with your company. This makes it important to provide your employees with the resources they need to be satisfied with their work environment.
4. Showing You’re Invested Can Decrease the Stigma
Many employees feel they won’t be supported if they bring up their mental health at work, especially not with management-level or C-Suite colleagues. One thing companies can do to support mental health is make the first move — if employees see that their company is open-minded and supportive about workers needing help sometimes, it creates an opportunity to open a productive dialogue or at least encourage those who need help to seek it.
5. Mental Health at Work Helps Life at Home
Research shows that seriously troubling trends arise when a person is overworked and constantly stressed out by their job. It harms their relationships with their spouse, their children and even close friends who notice the toll their work is taking on them. When employees are experiencing instability at home, they’re likely to bring it back to work with them, something that will affect the entire company if there aren’t outlets to resolve outstanding issues.
Basic Needs Are Mental Health Needs
You may be wondering what kinds of things can be considered mental health resources. Basically, a mental health resource is anything that gives your employees a chance to have a better experience when they’re at work and better access to mental health care when they’re not at work.
Here are some examples:
- Company-sponsored health care: Modern group health plans often include significant support for employees’ mental health needs, but some companies choose to subsidize additional counseling and behavioral health services, especially in industries associated with high occupational stress.
- More paid time off: PTO and vacation days are a start, but generous paternity/maternity leave policies, as well as being understanding of flexible schedules for family responsibilities, can be a major boost to work satisfaction.
- Workplace amenities: Even what seems like the bare minimum can help.
At the very least, having an HR department trained in dealing with employee mental health is a good way to prepare in the event of a mental health crisis in the workplace.
Mental Health Counseling at FHE Health
In the short term, you may feel that providing bare minimum mental health resources for your employees is all you can afford. Once you understand the far-reaching impact of poor employee mental health, though, you’ll see the value of providing more resources. If you’re looking for a place to provide mental health services for employees when they need it, contact FHE Health to learn about all the options we provide.