Wednesday 23 November 2022
$15 billion. That’s the minimum estimated cost per year of workplace-related mental illness and injury in Australia (The Australia Institute and Centre for Future Work).
But the true impact of mental health concerns may be going undetected in your organisation. Employees are less likely to disclose a mental health condition, seek help for themselves or offer support to others in workplaces considered mentally unhealthy (TNS and beyondblue).
With 43% of Australians aged 16-85 years experiencing a mental disorder at some point in their life (ABS), it’s just as important for employers to create a mentally healthy workplace as it is a physically safe one.
While these statistics are sobering, they’re also a call to action. As a HR consultant and Mental Health First Aider, I’m passionate about helping business leaders create mentally healthy workplaces by optimising existing strategies and implementing new cost effective solutions.
But before we explore how organisations can best support their workers’ wellbeing, here’s a closer look at the causes and effects of poor mental health in the workplace.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a 25% increase in anxiety and depression worldwide (WHO).
Unfortunately, work-related stressors have played a role, with up to 45% of mental health problems experienced by employed people attributable to their workplace conditions (The Australia Institute and Centre for Future Work).
These psychosocial hazards include:
A survey of 26,000 workers by the Australian Council of Trade Unions reported 61% experienced poor mental health because psychosocial risks weren’t effectively managed by their employer (Black Dog Institute).
This can manifest as:
Mental health injury is the fastest growing compensable claim, with Safe Work Australia estimating 43% of claims relating to psychological injury to be due to workplace stressors (Black Dog Institute).
Additionally, more than 90% of workers now say their wellbeing is just as important as their pay (Swinburne University of Technology and Deloitte) and 62% consider work-life balance as the most important factor in choosing an employer (Randstad).
These figures highlight that if organisations don’t prioritise mental health, they may find it more challenging, and more costly, to retain and recruit employees.
Reducing the stigma of mental health through open communication is just the start. Under Australia’s Work Health and Safety laws, employers must protect their workers’ physical and psychological health in equal measure.
Business leaders can effect positive, lasting change to employee satisfaction, performance and retention by:
And the proof is in the numbers, with job control programs showing a minimum return of $1.30 for every dollar invested, and return to work programs returning $4.70 per dollar invested (Mental Health Australia and KPMG).
Where business leaders will see the greatest value is in designing a mentally healthy workplace and building a culture of psychological safety. To be successful, strategies need to be championed by executives, implemented by managers and easily accessed by employees.
An integrated and sustained approach involving risk assessment, data gathering, strategic planning, preventative action and progress tracking will ensure mentally healthy practices are embedded within your workplace.
It would be a pleasure to explore ROI driven solutions for your organisation that support a more engaged, productive and mentally healthy workforce. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for a confidential discussion.
Owner & Head of HR Advice, Radford HR