27th Jul, 2020 Read time 3 minutes

Developing a mentally healthy workplace

This article has been provided by Tap Into Safety and looks at some of the ways you can develop a more mentally healthy workplace for you and your employees.

Employee mental health is rapidly growing in importance, and businesses are more obligated to be responsible when it comes to maintaining the mental health of their employees, so now is the time to be proactive and develop a mentally healthy workplace.

In this article, we show you how to develop a mentally healthy workplace that’s good for your employees and will see a return on investment for your business.

What is a mentally healthy workplace?

In a mentally healthy workplace:

  • mental health is everyone’s responsibility
  • you consider mental health in every way you do business
  • everyone contributes to a supportive culture where people feel safe to talk about mental health
  • you tailor mental health support for individuals and teams
  • everyone can see you’re finding better ways to support worker mental health.
  • Strategies to Develop a Mentally Healthy Workplace

According to a recent publication from the Black Dog Institute, three key risk factors contribute to poor workplace mental health:

  1. Occupational uncertainty – such as lack of job security or poorly managed organisational change;
  2. Lack of value and respect in the workplace: such as bullying or a lack of organisational justice; and
  3. An imbalance in job design: such as a lack of synergy between the demands on employees and the resources they have available to them to assist with managing their workload.

Within the workplace, there are three groups of people whose actions have a critical impact on employees’ mental health: Senior Managers, Direct Line Managers and Supervisors, and the Employees themselves.

The benefits of a mentally healthy workplace

  • There are some clear and measurable benefits to businesses that develop a mentally healthy workplace, including:
  • A decrease in the number of work-related injuries and illnesses
  • A drop in workers’ compensation claims
  • Thriving workers who choose to remain with the business
  • An increase in productivity
  • A decrease in absenteeism
  • An increase in engagement and job satisfaction
  • A reduction in turnover and selection costs
  • An ability to attract top talent

Most businesses are in the people-business and rely on their employees to help them grow and prosper. Flexibility and support are critical drivers for employees to remain working for your business. Therefore, it makes sense to develop a mentally healthy workplace to retain your valued employees. After all, you’ve spent time and money sourcing, recruiting, onboarding and training them.

Return on Investment

The Mentally Healthy Workplaces in NSW discussion paper provides an example of the return on investment for businesses growing a mentally healthy workforce. The report uses a hypothetical example of a company that employs 200 staff.

The business would on average incur costs of over $270,000 in mental health-related absenteeism and presenteeism each year, and face a workers’ compensation claim every five years.

If this business spent $9,600 on workplace mental health promotion, they would save $40,000 each year. For SMEs, the return is $2.86 benefit for every dollar invested, while for large employers, the return on investment increases to $4.01.

As a result of increasing health and safety obligations and industrial manslaughter laws, business is responsible for maintaining their employee’s mental health. When you develop a mentally healthy workplace it’s good for your business and your employees, plus the return on investment makes it a no brainer.

Strategies to improve the mental health within a business include: providing training for leaders, managers and employees; ensuring supportive and open workplace cultures; supporting and training for employees returning to work from a mental illness; and increasing job control for employees.

Over time, strategies such as these, will improve the ongoing mental health of your employees and lead to increases in productivity, fewer absentees and a safer workplace.

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