What’s trending – Workplace Mental Wellbeing
According to OECD, the intergovernmental economic organisation, the pandemic has had a major impact on mental health. The research shows that the prevalence of anxiety and depression almost doubled in many countries from March 2020 onwards compared to previous years. While people losing their jobs is a major contributor to these statistics, working from home means many have lost their social connections and daily routines. In addition, they may have had to take on the roles of teacher, child minder or cook while meeting work-related deadlines. At some elite US colleges, as many as 1 in 4 students are classified as disabled largely because of mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. This means they’re accommodated in a variety of ways such as longer times to take exams. These students – many at the top of their class – will enter the workforce with mental health issues and employers need to recognise this.
Why is it important?
It is increasingly recognised that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are more productive. According to the World Health Organization, depression and anxiety have a significant economic impact: the estimated cost to the global economy is $1 trillion per year in lost productivity. In the UK, the cost of employees with mental health problems is as high as £225 billion per year, which represents 12.1% of the UK’s total GDP. If steps aren’t taken to accommodate employees like this, companies are likely to see increased absenteeism, high staff turnover and poor performance, all of which have a negative impact on productivity and profits. It will also adversely affect employee morale. By addressing mental health issues in the workplace, employers can reduce health care costs for their businesses and employees.
What can businesses do about it?
The scale of mental distress since the start of the pandemic requires unprecedented levels of mental health support if it is not to lead to permanent scarring. Businesses should have a comprehensive mental wellbeing policy and strategy in place; management training should be implemented. Companies should raise awareness about the importance of mental health and stress management while health care plans should include mental health coverage. Recruitment and retention practices should be implemented that don’t discriminate against employees with these kinds of conditions. To help employers, there are now digital solutions to provide support for their staff. Recent research has demonstrated that e-health interventions can be effective in improving employees’ mental health and effectiveness. Other approaches include Beehive PR’s, which has an “InZone”, a dedicated quiet room not connected to a wireless internet signal, which gives employees a place to recharge. Certified Angus Beef provides free wellness consultations by an on-site clinical psychologist.
By Faeeza Khan
Image credit: Yan Kurkov