The business case for mentally healthy workplaces
You’ve probably seen the phrase mentally healthy workplaces used before. It’s about supporting the mental health of the workers on your staff. We know that having a mentally workplace aids in retention of good talent. We also know that it makes for a desirable workplace that gets its fair share of applications with each job post.
But what are some of the other ways having mentally healthy workplaces can help you? Let’s check them out.
I know, I know – you were expecting me to lead with something softer and warmer. But let’s be honest here, businesses want to know where they can save costs. And having a mentally healthy workplace is one of the ways you can do just that.
As mentioned in the introduction, a mentally healthy workplace retains and attracts talent like nobody’s business. It also means that you cover all bases.
Town planning that allows for a wheelchair to make the most out of a street caters to the pointy end of the problem and catches everyone else. Parents with prams, the elderly with walking aids, bicyclists, couples, families and everyday walkers all benefit from a focus on solving the issue of wheelchair accessibility.
Workplaces are not dissimilar. If you cater to stress reduction and creating space for people with mental health conditions, you’re also creating stress-free and supportive workplaces for everyone else.
Mentally unhealthy workplaces:
- See double the amount of days taken off due to stress at a cost of $4.7billion a year in absenteeism
- Pay out $146 million annually in worker’s compensation across mental health and stress related claims, bullying, and applied workplace pressure
- Burn through employees. With the cost of recruiting junior staff starting at the $9,000 mark and increasing to $23,000 for senior level-mangers, continually replacing people due to workplace issues can become a costly exercise
And that’s without factoring in issues with presenteeism and low-quality work.
In short, it costs more to keep people unhappy than it does to provide a stress-free environment.
Increases the chance of recovery
Mental wellness doesn’t only come down to the workplace. With 45% of Australians having a major mental health crisis in their lifetime, we know that how things are at a workplace is but one moving part of a wider story.
Yet having a mentally healthy workplace aids in recovery, regardless of the factors that have influenced a person’s situation.
Think about it logically for a minute.
Many workers who find themselves with issues in their personal life relish the opportunity to have greater autonomy and control in their working lives. Heck, a lot of us have gotten through some particularly tough personal situations via the sense of routine and accomplishment that work can provide.
When we’re at work, we can have the chance to relieve other stressors and focus on a place where we feel valued and supported, in control and useful.
But our emotional wellbeing is kind of like an old milking stool. The legs of that stool may be made of work, relationships, friendships and health. If we lose one leg, it might be a little bumpy, but we can stay upright. If you lose two or more, we’re definitely in trouble.
Being a mentally healthy workplace means you can be a positive influence on the lives of your workers, even when they face issues outside your four walls.
Not only that but a study by UTS and the University of Sydney in 2017 found that recovery from mental health issues was much easier in places that were mentally healthy. In fact, only 13% of staff spent time off work managing their mental health condition if the workplace was genuinely mentally healthy. That compares with 46% stating they spent time off work in mentally unhealthy workplaces.
Looking after their mental health at work means your workers are more productive, more loyal and more likely to show up.
It takes the drag off HR
Human resources have a lot of work to do. They need to find, vet and hire good talent. They have a role to play in training people and keeping the workplace humming. They also have to sort out everything from how efficient your workforce is through to personnel issues.
I put it to you that human resources have no hope of getting the best out of your workforce if all they are studying is the human capital aspects without a focus on wellness. Happier, healthier workers produce higher quality, better standard work. And more efficiently and creatively, too.
But let’s think about the accidental load created for HR teams through neglecting workplace wellness.
Mentally healthy workplaces Don’t see:
- Issues such as bullying and harassment
- Increased cases of worker’s compensation
- A higher level of recruitment through a lack of retention
- A reduced pool of candidates to pull from
- Potential reputation damage to navigate
- Demotivated staff
- Greater chance of theft and white-collar crime.
All of which often fall on the shoulders of HR to fix. This takes time, money and resources to manage. It also becomes a problem that the HR department continuously deals with until significant inroads to changing the workplace culture can be made.
Plus, it can leave you vulnerable to costly legal cases. None of which is particularly helpful.
In a toxic culture, good people leave. The potential for the good workers you have is diminished as they lose confidence and with it, connection with the work. It also creates a risk-adverse culture that fails to innovate for fear of failure. The darker figures within the culture thrive, which means an increase in bullying, harassment, and other negative behaviours as they become emboldened.
In truly terrible cases, your workers may feel entitled to better conditions and begin to take what they believe they are entitled to. Such is the case with unscheduled and undocumented time off work, petty theft, and even embezzlement.
By being proactive about mentally healthy workplaces, you free up one of your best people management assets to do great, proactive work. Instead of spending their time putting out fire after fire.
Not sure where to start?
As mentioned in previous blogs, moving to a mentally healthy workplace is not an overnight switch. It’s a mix of policies and great decision making. The first step is to start listening to what your workers want. Put out a survey and ask them what matters to them. Think realistically about what you can and can’t manage. And recognise that change is incremental and let your staff know how long and what will be involved in change.
Want help designing that survey or collecting the information you need to make a change? That’s what I am here for! I can help you get the right foundations for a great, cost-effective workplace stress reduction policy.
Let’s talk about your future mentally healthy workplaces today. CONTACT ME NOW.
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