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Cathleen Wright

There is a direct link between mental health and job satisfaction. Many companies are striving to improve mental wellness in the workplace in order to improve job satisfaction, and as a result, reduce benefits and disability claims and costs, increase productivity, reduce absenteeism, and boost their bottom lines. But are they succeeding or missing the mark?

Though many employers believe that their mental wellness programs are sufficient, their employees don’t always agree. And with 1.5 million employees in the GTA having experienced mental health issues, it’s time to take better action.

According to Employees…

The new 2016 Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey reports that employers are falling short when it comes to mental wellness in the workplace. Just over half of employee respondents to the survey felt recognized and praised in their jobs, while 67 percent stated their workloads were reasonable for their positions. However, that number dropped to 56 percent for employees of larger organizations with over 500 workers. In addition, only 66 percent felt supported in getting work done by their supervisors, while 63 percent felt satisfied with the respect and fairness received on the job.

These numbers fall short of the 85 percent target that indicates a psychologically safe work environment according to an employer’s guide developed for the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace and used as the basis for the survey. Other key failings include employee involvement in decisions, keeping employees in the loop before decisions are made, and recognitions and awards.

According to Employers…

In addition, these numbers are lower than employers’ expectations. For example, 81 percent of employer respondents believed workloads were reasonable for their employees’ positions and 80 percent believed their employees felt free and safe to speak up about the effects of personal issues on work performance.

There is no doubt a stark difference between employers’ perception of psychological health in the workplace and the employees’ actual statements.

Your Efforts May Not Be Enough

According to the survey, 70 percent of plan sponsors have mental wellness policies and procedures in place. But these efforts may not be enough. Efforts must go beyond simple policy implementation. Employers must ensure that the policies are both understood by employees as well as effectively put into action.

How to Ensure Success with Mental Wellness Programs

There is great potential for workplace wellness programs to improve employees’ psychological health, improve job performance, and fuel stronger business performance, but only if these programs are prioritized and properly implemented.

Many employers understand the importance of health and wellness programs, but aren’t delivering the right programs or effectively communicating them with their employees. In addition, many aren’t using measurement frameworks to measure the impact of their programs.

A survey by Goodlife Fitness found that, though 83 percent of those responsible for creating health and wellness benefits felt their programs were sufficient, 62 percent of their employees said they would like to see more. The survey also found that 62 percent of respondents didn’t believe their programs were tailored enough to employee needs.

To see positive impacts from their health and wellness programs, business owners should survey their employee populations to gain insights about employee health and wellness practices and interests, ensure communication and customization, and measure their results.

Promoting your employees’ psychological health and preventing mental harm due to workplace factors can result in a great competitive advantage. It can lead to lowered benefits and disability costs, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, fewer injuries and accidents, improved talent retention and attraction, and improved job satisfaction, which all lead to a healthier bottom line. When you prioritize a psychologically healthy workplace for your employees, everyone wins.

 Everything You Need to Know about Group Benefits & Insurance

Cathleen Wright

With over 30 years of experience, Cathleen possesses an ever-growing knowledge of all aspects of group employee benefits, combined with expertise in the evolving landscape of the insurance industry. She is HIAA and ADR certified, in addition to numerous other professional sales and service certifications. When not working, Cathleen can be found at home watching the Leafs or the Blue Jays, and if it’s summer, she’ll be unplugged at the cottage with a book. Year round yoga is a must to maintain serenity, and a glass of wine or a margarita doesn’t hurt!
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