The evidence is clear: mental health concerns have a massive impact on organisations. Whether through attrition, reduced productivity, or sickness, we can see that it’s an area we need to prioritise. 20% of CAMH Canada survey respondents have voluntarily left a job for mental health-related reasons, but that proportion jumps to 50% among millennial respondents and a staggering 75% among Gen Z employees.
Another thing is becoming clear: most organisations are struggling to best support their people’s mental health. According to UK data taken from insurance firm AXA’s annual Mind Health and Wellbeing study, only 40% of individuals said their employer-provided “good” support, with managers in particular at the highest risk of poor mental health (one in four).
Often, due to valid reasons such as time pressure, the need for immediate results, low budgets, or conflicting priorities, we go ahead with intuitive wellbeing programmes, rather than strategic ones. This means that we only address the symptoms displayed by the employees rather than the actual causes of the stress. This may be a quick and effective solution in time of crisis, but is not sustainable and can impact the performance of the company.
Poor mental health costs UK employers up to £45 billion per year (Deloitte, 2020), while For every £1 spent by employers on mental health interventions they get £5 back in reduced absence, presenteeism and staff turnover.
Now that conversations surrounding wellbeing and mental health are becoming commonplace, it’s time for organisations to bring wellbeing to the top of the agenda, and to use this as an opportunity to make a change. Here’s how:
HR professionals need to look after themselves in order to be able to support their employees. Nearly half of HR managers have considered leaving their current roles due to the pressure of dealing with employee mental health and burnout (Wellbeing Partners, 2021), and you need to make sure you’re putting on your own life jacket before helping others. Make sure you are managing to sustain an adequate work/life balance, and consider coaching or support specifically for often-neglected HR professionals.
Next, you need to build a case to get senior leadership engagement and ensure wellbeing is uniformly seen as a priority. Arm yourself with facts and data from internal wellbeing surveys, as well as data regarding the world of work (see our 2021 report for help), and if possible, bring an expert such as a Psychologist with you to pitch to senior management to provide credibility and expertise.
Depending on how seriously your management takes wellbeing, there may be a small or undefined budget. Wellbeing programmes can be expensive, but going for the cheapest option is often the most ineffective method. We don’t want a tick-box exercise, so paying for something that won’t deliver outcomes is potentially not the best solution. Instead, choose targeted, bespoke programmes that are tailored towards your employees’ specific challenges, so you get the best return on your investment.
We have access to more data then ever, how can you use this to map out the real causes of distress in your organisation? Look at both behaviours and psychological constructs, from actual working patterns, time pressure to psychological safety, social support and so on. Don’t settle for an off-the-shelf benefits package if you’re seeking real, sustained change. Ways to protect against poor outcomes include:
In order for change to happen, and last, you need buy-in from not only leaders and senior management, but also everyone else. This ensures changing behaviours come from the bottom, up as well as the top, down. Starting a new wellbeing programme, depending on the culture of your organisation can be tricky, and after the investment, you want to be able to see the outcomes. Methods of increasing and ensuring optimal engagement include:
Looking to build your gold standard wellbeing strategy? Book a call with a specialist today.