Each year, one in five Canadians gets diagnosed with a mental health or addiction problem—that’s nearly six million workers. The actual number of Canadians suffering with mental health problems is likely much higher. Mental illness is, in fact, the largest untreated epidemic in the Canadian workplace.
Considering 20 to 25% of your company’s workforce might be dealing with mental health issues, you must take employee mental health and wellness seriously. It’s not only the right thing to do for employees, but it can also have a significantly positive impact on your company’s productivity and bottom line.
The Cost of Mental Health Cannot Be Ignored
The financial price tag of mental illness at work is skyrocketing.
Mental health issues cost companies a lot of money. Approximately 30% of short-term and long-term disability claims in 2014 were due to mental illnesses. In fact, it’s the fastest growing claim type in the country. Mental health issues end up costing companies almost $1,500 per employee, every year. In smaller organizations, this cost can have a big impact on the bottom line. In larger organizations, the costs can add up significantly.
Canadian employers cannot ignore the cost of mental illness. Instead, they must prioritize employee mental wellness in an effort to reduce these costs. Investing in understanding and managing mental health in the workplace can improve the bottom line.
Mental Illness Is Bad for Business
The impact of stress, depression, and other mental illnesses is bad for business. The productivity for employees who are struggling with mental health problems is negatively impacted due to presenteeism. Absenteeism rates also rise, as do disability claims and compensation claims. The rate of occupational injuries and health claims also increase.
In addition, there are lower levels of worker job satisfaction and customer satisfaction.
Many employees will also leave their jobs due to stress or other mental health struggles, leading to higher turnover and reduced retention.
A Mentally Healthy Workplace Linked to Better Business
There is a strong connection between the achievement of business goals and a mentally healthy workplace. Employees who are not stressed or struggling internally with other issues perform their work more efficiently and effectively. They’re more productive, and morale increases as well.
By prioritizing employee mental wellness, you can significantly cut the costs of disability claims, health claims, compensation claims, absenteeism, presenteeism, and turnover, which can boost your bottom line.
Having employee mental wellness programs in place can also impact loyalty as well as talent attraction and retention. Creating a culture of employee mental wellness can show that you care about your employees’ health and wellbeing.
How to Prioritize Employee Mental Wellness
Creating an effective health initiative that includes a comprehensive program tailored to mental health isn’t easy. You must go beyond the standard, barebones employment assistance programs. It isn’t enough to just hang posters with helpline phone numbers.
Mental health training for leaders and managers; internal campaigns to raise awareness about mental wellness;and regular workshops on sleep, exercise, mindfulness, and stress must all be prioritized to improve employee mental wellness.
To successfully approach mental health in the workplace, you must eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness. You must encourage employees to seek support—and make that support accessible. You must make the workplace a safe and supportive environment where employees can feel confident talking about and disclosing mental health issues.
The problems surrounding mental illness in the workplace cannot be ignored. If you want a high-performing company, then you need to ensure that you have a resilient and healthy workforce. That’s why it’s so important to prioritize employee mental wellness in the workplace.