Employee mental health is a crucial issue in today’s workplace. According to the World Health Organization, lost productivity resulting from depression and anxiety costs the global economy US$1 trillion each year. The cost is also steep for the companies that suffer the consequences, such as absenteeism and reduced productivity. So it’s essential that companies adopt practices that improve employees’ quality of life at work and promote their well-being. Preventive measures can go a long way toward addressing these challenges.
Factors that adversely affect mental health in the workplace and their consequences
The factors that can affect workers’ mental health include job-related pressure stemming from an excessive workload, tight deadlines or unrealistic goals that cause stress and anxiety. Such pressure often interferes with work-life balance and may even lead to burnout.
Like job-related pressure, interpersonal conflict, harassment and discrimination can also take a toll on employees’ mental health. Such conflicts create a toxic work environment and, if not resolved quickly and appropriately, can escalate to the point where they become chronic, undermining employees’ mental health over the long term. Affected individuals may develop disorders such as post-traumatic stress and clinical depression.
Organizational changes, such as restructurings, mergers, acquisitions, management changes or reorganizations, can also create insecurity and anxiety for employees. They may worry about the impact on their career or their working conditions. Organizational changes can also affect team dynamics and interpersonal relationships. People may feel isolated or ignored during such transitions. They may also have difficulty adapting to a new team or a newly assigned role.
For companies, the consequences of employees who suffer from poor mental health are considerable. According to a Morneau Shepell study, absenteeism accounts for up to 5% of total payroll in the private sector, and the cost is even higher in the public sector. Presenteeism, or the practice of reporting for work despite the inability to perform effectively, is another problem that can lead to lower productivity and substandard work.
Mental health also has a significant effect on turnover; employees with mental health issues are more likely to leave their jobs than those who enjoy good mental health. Such attrition causes companies to incur extra expenditures to recruit and train replacement employees.
Yet another consequence for employers is the high cost of disability insurance claims. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, mental health problems and illnesses account for approximately 30% of all long-term disability claims.
What employers can do
It’s in an employer’s interest to take measures that improve employees’ quality of life at work and, by extension, their mental health. Here are some approaches to consider:
- Foster a corporate culture that emphasizes communication, collaboration and caring. Adopt a flexible work policy that facilitates work-life balance with features such as a four-day week or remote work.
- Introduce a program to recognize employees who achieve their goals or contribute significantly to the company; at the same time, it will increase their job satisfaction and strengthen their sense of belonging.
- Implement a policy to prevent psychological or sexual harassment, a mandatory practice since January 1, 2019.
These measures can not only reduce disability-related costs but also improve productivity and performance, reduce absenteeism and promote employee engagement. An employer that makes the mental health of its employees a priority also enhances its reputation and employer brand. In short, promoting mental health and taking related measures is a win-win solution.
Even with all these sound practices in place, instances of disability can occur, with the need for an independent medical assessment or medical expertise. The Ducore Expertise physician network includes a number of evaluators who specialize in mental health.
Contact us to learn about our psychiatric expertise: firstname.lastname@example.org.