Workplace Mental Health Is Still Impacting the Bottom Line

Workplace Mental Health Is Still Impacting the Bottom Line

It is widely known that 1-in-5 people will experience a mental health challenge at some point in their life. But we need to reframe this statistic because mental health is actually a 5-in-5 issue. The reality is that we all have mental health, just as we have physical health. Therefore, mental health in the workplace is a responsibility that leaders must support. Companies and organizations are beginning to realize that mental health and wellbeing are at the forefront of company culture trends. So, if this reality isn’t convincing enough, Verizon Media, Made of Millions, and Culture Co-Op recently partnered together to conduct a global survey on mental health challenges faced by managers in the workplace. The survey found some surprising truths about how workplace mental health is still impacting the bottom line.

Global Research on Workplace Mental Health & the Bottom Line

The survey was conducted among 1,000 managers, HR executives, and business leaders in six countries worldwide. The first (not so surprising) statistic revealed that over the pandemic, 87% of leaders agree that mental health has been the number one impact on the workforce. Just as COVID-19 lifestyle disruptions have impacted mental health in general, they have also significantly impacted employee mental health in the workplace. Individuals dealing with added anxiety over the virus, its precautionary measures, and the logistical strain of working from home the past year have led to increased burnout, discrimination, and stress across the board.

The following statistic revealed a very shocking reality… 98% of managers agree that mental health is still having a direct, negative impact on organizations’ bottom line. In fact, the effects of neglected mental health cost US businesses billions of dollars every year. When employees are less productive due to poor mental health, this leads to more inadequate communication across teams, impacting entire organizational performance. Despite this dominant force, resources for maintaining mental health in the workplace are still lacking. From the survey, 70% of managers report that they don’t have policies or procedures to address employee mental health. Likewise, only one-quarter of managers feel well-equipped to handle the mental health needs of their workforce.

“The cost of ignoring mental health in the workplace can impact caliber and quality of product, and goes even beyond output. It can damage working relationships, effectiveness and overall culture.” – Guru Gowrappan, CEO of Verizon Media. 

In the past couple of years, 96% of leaders agree that modelling mental health management would have been helpful, and 73% agree they would’ve used this resource if it had been made available. So why haven’t organizations taken action to solve this issue?

Why the disconnect on workplace mental health?

There is an overall gap in recognizing mental health in the workplace and taking action to address it. In some cases, leaders feel as though they are floundering and do not know where to start in tackling this major issue. For example, what qualifies as workplace mental health? Who is in charge of addressing it? Who is actually suffering? These are some of the questions that lead to a general lack of clarity around concretely supporting mental health in the workplace.

How to bridge the gap.

To identify the sources of mental strain and provide the correct tools to combat them, Verizon Media and Made of Millions created The Mental Health Matrix. The “next-generation approach for identifying and managing mental health in the workplace” is a great starting point for organizations to support employee wellbeing. 

The Mental Health Matrix outlines four key areas in a 2×2 model: 

  1. Conditions: these are diagnosable mental health issues that are personal and ongoing. 
    • Solution: Accommodate neurodiversity.
    • Question to ask: “How can I help people on my team with various mental health conditions?”
  2. Intersections: these are mental health difficulties that arise from forms of discrimination and are interpersonal and ongoing.
    • Solution: Arbitrate discriminatory behaviour.
    • Question to ask: “How can I reduce systemic discrimination in the workplace?”
  3. Triggers: these are mental health challenges that arise from workplace dynamics that are interpersonal and onset. 
    • Solution: Address workplace stressors.
    • Question to ask: “How can I reduce workplace triggers?”
  4. Situations: these are mental health problems that arise from individual personal experiences that are personal and onset. 
    • Solution: Adapt to personal struggles.
    • Question to ask: “How can I help people on my team who are going through a challenging time?”

“Taking care of your employees’ mental health is good for the bottom line. It’s good for business. It’s good for the economy.” Jody Adewale, psychologist & Medical Advisor for Made of Millions.

Final Takeaways

What brings hope is that change can happen. The vast majority of mental health challenges managers have experienced in their workforces fall in the “situations” (83%) and “triggers” (93%) areas. What do these two areas have in common? Since these mental health challenges reside in the workplace and are not personal to employees, managers are qualified to handle them, not medical professionals (e.g., burnout, co-worker conflict, performance anxiety, caregiver stress, etc.). By implementing concrete mental health policies or procedures and refreshing with employees that you are actively trying to solve workplace mental health, you can bring about change in the office and alleviate the toll workplace mental health challenges are having on the bottom line.

And the catalysts for change are indeed the new generation. 88% of managers agree that Gen Z employees have the power to transform workplace mental health for the better. Compared to Baby Boomers, Gen Z managers report almost one-quarter more mental health challenges on their team compared. No mental health challenge should be swept under the rug. 

Over these unprecedented times, there has been a new awakening of neurodiversity and workplace wellness support. This awakening creates a fantastic opportunity for organizations to take the initiative and address employee mental health. Addressing this issue is key to building robust economic recovery.

“It’s a long and evolving road ahead to prioritize mental health at work, but industry research like this helps leaders to understand gaps better and identify solutions to build better mental health standards.” –Guru Gowrappan, CEO of Verizon Media.