Employers are often unsure or nervous about addressing mental health issues in the workplace. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, employers can’t afford to not address it at this point in history.
Of course, cost and resource allocation are factors, as they should be. But let’s think about what the cost is not to address it.
Consider this -employees experiencing mental distress use, on average, nearly $3,000 more in health care services per year than their peers. The cost of days lost averages $4,783 per year per employee, and the costs of turnover averages $5,733 per year per employee. Combine that with an increasing number of employees reporting negative mental health effects as a result of the pandemic, to the tune of 51% and you are looking at some serious numbers. Many of us are included in that count.
The same analysis that reviewed the cost of employees experiencing mental distress, by the National Safety Council and NORAC from the University of Chicago, also connected a return of $4 for every dollar spent for mental health treatment.
This all leads to the finding of a 2021 Fortune/Deloitte CEO Survey that reported an overwhelming majority of them agreed that employee mental health and well-being will continue to be a priority even after the pandemic is resolved (McBride and Finzi, 2021).
To me, it makes sense to look at the business case for supporting employee mental health. I have a broad sense of what that looks like - it’s not just programming to raise awareness about depression and anxiety or encouraging the use of Employee Assistance Programs. It is improving self awareness, communication, boundary setting, and relational positioning as it connects to a person’s general well-being. This is the basis for promoting a mentally healthy workplace.
Addressing mental health and employee wellbeing head on is not only a responsible, kind, and human thing to do, it makes financial sense.
2 International Committee of the Red Cross, 2020.