There is a growing body of evidence that suggests a mentally healthy workplace delivers greater benefits than just the reduction of absenteeism and presenteeism due to mental health issues.
A recent study by Instinct and Reason found that a mentally healthy workplace contributes to greater job satisfaction and productivity gains as well as being the second most important factor in an employee’s decision to accept a role with an organisation. Other key findings of this research found that employees were less likely to seek work with other organisations if their current employer provided a culture that promotes good mental wellbeing and protected the mental health of its employees.¹
Research by PwC and beyondblue estimate that mental health issues cost Australian businesses an estimated $10.9bn per annum indicating it is well worth employers focussing on some key areas that will help to boost the wellbeing of their employees.²
The Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance through their Heads Up campaign describes a mentally healthy workplace as: "one that protects and promotes mental health and empowers people to seek help for depression and anxiety, for the benefit of the individual, organisation and community".
Work can be very positive for our mental health as it provides us with a sense of meaning, and purpose and contributes to a sense of achievement and identity. There are some key factors that contribute to our wellbeing, and these can be supported in the workplace including:
- being connected to others: inclusive cultures, working in a team, having your opinion valued and being invited to some social events through work, and having the opportunity to join projects or committees
- supportive relationships: feeling able to approach colleagues or managers with issues and concerns, feeling supported with work-related and/or personal issues and being in a work environment that reflects an awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues through training and /or information on the topic
- freedom from discrimination and violence: being part of a work environment that is safe, that supports diversity, and where discrimination, bullying, intimidation or violence is not tolerated
- self-determination: having a level of autonomy, choice, responsibility and ownership or control over how work is performed and having the ability to set and achieve work related goals
- self-esteem and self-efficacy: feeling generally good about work, feeling competent to be able to perform their role and able to make a meaningful contribution that is recognised by managers and colleagues and having feedback delivered in a positive and constructive manner that contributes to an employee's development.³
Through developing a workplace that includes these factors, organisations are well on their way to developing a mentally healthy culture.
Helena Kuo is Partner at En Masse. Contact her via our online form.
Creating a mentally healthy workplace: Return on investment analysis, 2014; PwC