mentally healthy workplace

Employee mental health is rapidly growing in importance, and it’s time to be proactive and develop a mentally healthy workplace. Under increasing health and safety obligations and industrial manslaughter laws sweeping the country, business is responsible for maintaining their employee’s mental health.

Mental illness is now the leading cause of long-term sickness absence in Australia, creating a substantial human cost as well as costing businesses. According to Beyond Blue, mental illness costs workplaces $4.7 billion in absenteeism, $6.1 billion in presenteeism, and $146 million in compensation claims every year. 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.

Recently, the Australian Productivity Commission released an Issues Paper The Social and Economic Benefits of Improving Mental Health.  To develop a mentally healthy workplace, these are some actions that you can take. The Commission recommends that business provide:

  • Anti-bullying policies
  • Manager and leadership training
  • Resilience training for employees
  • Stress management procedures
  • Employee Assistance Programs
  • Support and training for employees returning to work from a mental illness
  • Increases in job control for employees
  • Training and awareness programs for all employees to reduce stigma and support work colleagues.

See our article, 3 Steps Towards a Mentally Healthy Workplace.

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.

See our article, How Can We Grow a Mentally Healthy Workplace?

How Can Tap into Safety Help?

Tap into Safety‘s mental health training is delivered online, tablet and mobile phone, on relevant workplace topics that impact mental health using microlearning. We offer practical coping strategies that increase mental health literacy. For businesses looking to support their employees as they develop a mentally healthy workplace, the training helps by intervening early with relevant and interactive employee mental health training.

Critically, the training offers information on where to reach out for support, including a recommendation to access their Employment Assistance Program. The Platform provides a record of training completion to assist in documented evidence for health and safety compliance requirements.

Above all, clients using the training have seen increases in help-seeking by 100%, as shown in the product evaluation conducted in 2017.

The training provides an alternative method of a non-confrontational way to seek help. By encouraging help-seeking early, we reduce the escalation to serious stress claims. Providing easy access to support encourages employees to tell us when they are not well or not feeling as good as they should.

We believe that organisations are looking for effective ways to support employee mental health in what is currently a tight budgetary climate. To assist employers in developing a mentally healthy workplace, Tap into Safety has a per-use ‘credits’ pricing model which provides access to our mental health training and employee support, with no lock-in contract or annual license.

Tackling mental health decline to develop a mentally healthy workplace is not solved in a one-size-fits-all approach. Therefore, business needs to offer a variety of solutions and activities to encourage people who need help, to reach out and do so as early as possible. If you would like to know more about our Mental Health Training, contact us and try a FREE online demo today.

To Conclude

As a result of increasing health and safety obligations and industrial manslaughter laws, business is responsible for maintaining their employee’s mental health. It’s time to take some steps to develop a mentally healthy workplace. In Australia, mental illness is now the leading cause of long-term sickness absence, creating a high human cost as well as costing business.

When you develop a mentally healthy workplace it’s good for your employees and will see a return on investment for your business. Strategies 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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