Stress, anxiety and depression are thought to be responsible for almost half of the working days lost in Britain due to health issues1.
With a sixth of workers experiencing a mental health problem at any one time, it’s no surprise why.
Though there has been a shift in recent years regarding the discussion of mental health in the workplace, there is still a long way to go before a period of true change occurs, including the benefits for employers who invest in their team’s mental health.
So, why does investing in your team’s mental health and wellbeing save you money?
It begins with absenteeism, presenteeism and leaveism.
In a digital age, now more than ever, it can be difficult to ‘switch off’ from work, alongside an increased pressure to show up regardless of your mental state.
Here’s what you have to contend with when it comes to workplace mental health and wellbeing:
Leaveism: Being unable to ‘switch off’ from work.
Absenteeism: Being absent from work.
Presenteeism: Putting aside mental and physical ailments to attend work.
The combined annual cost to employers as a result of the factors above is £45bn, comprising of £7bn in absence costs, £27bn-£29bn in presenteeism costs, and £9bn in costs of staff turnover – not including the costs to employers as a result of reduced productivity, creativity and team dynamics2.
As remote working and flexible working have become more popular during the pandemic, it’s become even harder to separate your work life and personal life.
Leaveism can occur when employees are given work that cannot be completed in working hours, or when they feel obligated to complete work whilst on leave or holiday.
1 in 4 employees reports feeling mentally exhausted due to increased connectivity.
The biggest contributor? Emails.
Employees that are sent out of hours emails often feel obligated to not only respond but to also complete the work or tasks mentioned in the email.
Though the number of workplace absences has fallen in the last decade, days lost due to mental health have risen, with stress, depression and anxiety being cited increasingly as reasons for absence.
Many employees might not disclose their real reasoning behind absence therefore these numbers may not be representative.
The rise in remote working as an alternative to taking time off and absenteeism can be detrimental to the workplace.
Presenteeism has been on the rise in recent years, due to employees choosing to attend work despite poor mental health, meaning reduced productivity and burnout are imminent risks.
A large contributor to presenteeism is a fear of the stigma around mental health:
- 1 in 10 employees who have disclosed a mental health problem were dismissed, demoted or disciplined.
- 1 in 4 employers said they fear negative consequences if they make their mental health issues formal3.
It isn’t all negative, though – 44% of those surveyed said they would feel comfortable talking to a line manager about mental health.
So how does focusing on employee mental health save money?
When investing in the mental health of your employees, you can expect a return on investment (ROI) of £5 for every £1 spent, according to Deloitte.
However, this isn’t accounting for the ROI on larger-scale initiatives that are focused on preventative measures and more in-depth support, which can have increased returns.
Organisation-wide culture and awareness training have the biggest impact, with an average 6:1 ROI, including initiatives that have screening, personalised feedback, and referrals to occupational health.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) sessions via email delivered by a therapist had the lowest returns, at 3:1.
What does this tell us?
Organisation-wide, preventative initiatives are more successful and a better investment than reactive, individual-focused ones.
Early-stage support is important, having one of the highest potential ROIs at 10.8:1 for a training-based intervention.
Even when employees rely more on awareness and culture change in the workplace (if other interventions seem too costly at the time), there is still an almost equal ROI, as a more accessible and cost-effective method to promote genuine change.
The key takeaway?
The most effective initiatives and programmes are those that are truly embedded into the organisation over a longer period of time – not those used as a temporary, quick fix.
If you want to have the biggest impact on the ROI of mental health interventions for your team, factors that positively impact it are:
- Universal training or training to targeted groups.
- Utilising technology to increase uptake and reduce stigma.
- Using adequate diagnostics and screening to target based on need.
It is in the interest of employers to invest in their employee’s well being because it can save money, increase productivity, and foster genuine change in the culture of a workplace at a time when change is so vital and necessary.
Encouraging a good work/life balance is only the beginning – providing great development opportunities for staff, in-house counsellors, having easy access to occupational health providers, allowing flexible working hours, and encouraging employees to give feedback are all part of a well-rounded mental health and wellbeing culture at work.
If you’re struggling to find the right occupational health provider, let us help you find the support you need, whether by a service or by a practitioner – or even if you’re not sure what you’re looking for just yet.
Danny Clarke, Simply People