The Cost of Neglected Employee Mental Health? $80 Billion and Counting.

The Cost of Neglected Employee Mental Health

In the midst of a growing mental health crisisindividuals are more in tune with their mental state than ever before. Employers have recognized that they must prioritize the mental wellbeing of their workforce the same way. McKinsey published a national survey revealing that behavioural health is the most pressing health concern rated among employers. 90% of employers agree that COVID-19 is affecting both behavioural health and productivity. The statistics are overwhelmingly clear: employers have recognized they must take action to protect employee mental health.

What has this looked like? Many prominent companies have began implementing mental health policies, providing training workshops, and employing mental health campaigns and platforms to support employee wellbeing. To stay competitive and retain employees, here’s why employers need to jump on this company culture trend.

In a recent survey from Ginger, 92% of CEOs reported increased efforts supporting employee mental health since the onset of COVID-19. Similarly, 96% of CEOs thought their companies were doing enough to address their employees’ mental health; however, only 69% of employees agreed with this statement, a staggering 27% difference in perception.

Costs of Poor Workplace Mental Health

The effects of neglected mental health and substance abuse cost US businesses roughly $80 to $100 billion every year. Globally, the economy loses approximately $1 trillion each year due to lost productivity from depression and anxiety. This financial strain is in part due to the increased number of days missed for individuals battling mental challenges. Even worse? Things are trending in the wrong direction. Global direct costs (i.e., medication, hospitalization, etc.) and indirect costs (i.e., loss of production due to absence or early retirement) are expected to double by 2030.

The current reactive mental health models that many organizations have in place are costly because they wait for issues to unfold before taking remedial action. Even though mental illnesses generate lower direct health-related insurance costs for companies than progressive conditions like heart disease and cancer, they account for a more significant loss in productivity when left unaccounted. Employees bring their mental health challenges to work, resulting in presenteeism—ongoing health conditions prevent employees from being optimally productive at work. Research shows that presenteeism from depression costs more per employee than physical health conditions such as headaches, obesity, diabetes, and arthritis.

On the other hand, employees with depression in workplaces with inadequate mental health programs miss on average 27 days per year compared to their colleagues without depression. The per capita costs of this absenteeism are $4,426.59.

Studies show that mental health is ranked the number one factor for worker wellbeing, above physical and personal health across all demographics. So, unaddressed mental health concerns at work can lead to unemployment, resulting in high turnover rates and recruitment costs for organizations.

The Business Case has Been Made

For every $1 invested in evidence-based preventative mental wellness programs, employers can save $2-4 on other expenses, e.g., reduced sick absenteeism. Since research shows that 80% of employees would quit their current position for a job that focused more on mental health, creating a mutually beneficial work environment will also lead to greater employee retention. By implementing preventative mental health policies, employees will feel healthier mentally, resulting in a happier workforce with better work output and productivity.

“Early proactive intervention in the form of structured inner education increases quality of life and decreases the chances of stress, anxiety, burnout, and depression all of which have become epidemic in their proportions.” – Dr. Helena Lass (Psychiatrist, Founder of Wellness Orbit)

Here’s how employers can create healthy workplaces that proactively care for employee mental wellbeing.

Healthy Workplace Practices:

  1. Establish values and practices that promote workplace equality.
  2. Ensure employees are receiving fair workload distributions.
  3. Examine employees’ hour-output ratio—if a particular employee is putting in countless hours to meet minor criteria, is that healthy?
  4. Designate a mental health professional or service for employees to entrust.
  5. Roll out an effective mental health strategy.
  6. Recognize mental illnesses and create an environment where mental health days are not stigmatized.
  7. Be a kind, encouraging, and empathetic employer. Put yourself in your employees’ shoes.
  8. Arrange employee bonding activities to build trust, teamwork, and confidence.
  9. Educate mental health awareness in the workplace.

Interested in learning more about how you can support your employees’ mental health?

headversity has seen exponential growth since its launch in late 2019, impacting more than 500,000 lives globally with its “resilience AI”, an industry-first approach to preventative and personalized workforce training. It has partnered with some of North America’s largest and leading brands.

For more information about headversity’s preventative mental health and resilience solution for employers, click here.