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Why your employees' mental health matters

Employee mental health matters to the bottom line of the company’s profits and growth. Happy employees are more productive and outperform their competition by 20%. Another direct benefit to happy employees is that your happy employees will take only one-tenth of the sick leave an unhappy employee will receive.

Twenty percent of people in the workplace suffer a workplace mental health issue in any given year. Some of these are temporary while others are long-term. Working full-time with a mental condition isn’t easy, but often easily managed with adequate supports in place. Workplace mental health impacts everyone on the team. The better mental wellness is understood, the better employees can support their coworkers and help the team be more productive and accomplish more.

Sobering stats about mental health at work

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) conducted a recent survey for mental illness in the US:

  • 19.1% of adults experienced mental illness in 2018 (47.6 million people). This represents 1 in 5 adults. Of these, only 43.3% received treatment.

  • 4.6% of adults experienced serious mental illness in 2018 (11.4 million people). This represents 1 in 25 adults. Of these, only 64.1% received treatment.

  • 16.5% of youth aged 6-17 experienced a mental health disorder in 2016 (7.7 million people)

  • 3.7% of adults experienced a co-occurring substance use disorder and mental illness in 2018 (9.2 million people)

With stats like these, it is highly likely that your employees are touched by mental illness by a friend, loved one, or coworker sometime in their lives.

Why it matters at work

If the statistics don’t speak volumes themselves, consider this:

When employers take an interest in the mental health of employees and provide them with a healthy workplace, the company experiences a rise in productivity, morale, and engagement. Job satisfaction elevates with increased employee retention when employers take steps to improve mental health.

Such a focus on mental health ensures the employees have access to care and programs when they need them. This availability later reduces absenteeism and additional health costs to the company. It also reduces the number of workplace injuries, medical leave, and disability claims.

Good for business

The data about mental illness is, and its effect on productivity is dramatic, but the good news is that many afflictions are successfully treatable. With care, therapy, medication, and skill-building, 80% of employees experience improved levels of effectiveness and satisfaction in the workplace.

According to Philip Levendusky, Ph.D., at Harvard Medical School, “Addressing, mental health is cost-effective for the employer and beneficial for the employee. When employees receive effective treatment for mental illness, the result is lower total medical costs, increased productivity, lower absenteeism, and decreased disability costs.”

Components of a mentally healthy company

So we’ve already established that mentally healthy workers are happier and more productive, and the Mental Health Association (MHA) surveys agree. Despite this, most American employees still experience high stress and report little support from their coworkers and management. A mentally healthy company has policies and practices that support a culture of employee growth, engagement, and prevention of mental illness.

In Fall 2019, MHA plans to introduce the Bell Seal for Workplace Mental Health, a certification that recognizes and honors employers whose efforts demonstrably improve mental health for its employees, families, and communities.

The MHA Bell Seal will evaluate and certify companies in the areas of:

  • Section I: Workplace Culture

  • Section II: Health insurance & Benefits

  • Section III: Mental Health Programs & Perks

  • Section IV: Legal Compliance & Inclusion

  • Section V: Leadership & Community Engagement

Join the Pilot

If you are interested in participating as a pilot or have questions about the Bell Seal, please complete the form here.

10 ideas to creating a healthier workplace

A healthy workplace is a positive workspace showing employees that they are supported and valued. The workplace respects other aspects of their employee’s life.

1. Productive atmosphere

A productive atmosphere helps to promote a productive team. Such an atmosphere includes a clean and functional space. Management has a good working relationship with their staff. Employees feel appreciated and respected. Absent are any signs of bullying, intimidation, harassment, and fear.

2. Livable wage

A livable wage is competitive in the workplace and promotes a committed, engaged, and sustainable workforce.

3. Accommodations

Employees are invited to collaborate to identify reasonable accommodations for those in the workplace with physical and mental disabilities. Some changes may include changing the actual workspace, but may also include (based on need) the work schedule, adaptive equipment, or the use of interpreters.

4. Health and wellness program

The company provides a comprehensive health insurance plan for all employees. The plan includes smoking cessation, weight loss, mental health, and substance abuse programs. Other components of a health and wellness program may consist of health screenings, education groups, and fitness promotions.

5. Open lines of communication

The communication process should be transparent and ongoing. An open line of communication where all employees feel invested in the company creates a more energetic and productive workforce.

6. Employee accountability

Accountability isn’t like a light switch that can be turned off. It is a culture that is groomed and nurtured. In this culture, employees don’t fear failure as much as they are inspired to take risks and try new things. These employees come with a “can-do” attitude and are ready to jump in and support each other and their management.

7. Management accountability

Management encourages feedback from employees to their supervisors. Feedback is offered as a means for growth and improvement of the team without fear of retaliation or negative consequences.

8. Work/life balance

Technology can now keep us connected to work around the clock. Instead of taking advantage of this technology as a means of constant contact, picture it, instead of as a vehicle for flexibility of work options. Such flexibility may include remote work, flexible scheduling, or hoteling (reservation-based unassigned seating).

9. Clarity and positive values

Everyone inside and outside of the company should have a solid understanding of what the organization stands for. Be transparent about these values, guiding the team to make business decisions with those values in mind.

10. Get everybody moving

Exercise feeds the body and the soul, so encourage your employees to move every day. Some ideas may be fitness classes, gym memberships, walking trails, and fitness challenges to bubble the spirit of competition all in the name of good health.

When launching an overall wellness program for the company is an excellent method of inclusivity. On the other hand, we don’t want to lose sight of the individual. Regular interaction between managers and employees will foster early identification and tailored support for employees at their time of need.

Employee health and wellbeing is the target focus for us at Work2Live. You’ll see it in the experiences we’ve selected for the Lifestyle Spending Account (LSA). These experiences are designed to nurture the body and soul, thus affecting the very being of your employees in a way that they can associate with the positive attributes of your company.

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