We are living in a corporate world that is rapidly changing, where people are working longer hours, constantly using multiple forms of technology, all whilst trying to integrate home and work lives.
Unfortunately, continually adapting to these changes and the amount we pack into our work lives has had a dark side – a rise in mental health issues in the workplace.
It’s a problem, first and foremost, affecting the wellbeing of our people, but it also presents a major financial cost to business.
We all know this right!
Whether you are an employer or employee, you would have experienced a colleague, one of your staff or even yourself deal with a mental health issue.
You would have the seen the impact on the person, the workplace and even the operation of the business.
So what are we doing about it?
I believe we are heading in the right direction with greater acknowledgment of these issues; the amount of corporate training, educational resources and support available for employers and employees on mental health and wellbeing; and, an increasing focus of leaders on mental health in the workplace.
With that in mind, a trend I see in 2017 is an increase in the education and corporate training of leaders in delivering a mentally healthy workforce.
Before I dig into what leaders should focus on, let’s look at some recent research and statistics about the impact of mental health on the workplace in Australia and New Zealand.
This recent study of 1,025 employees by independent researcher Instinct and Reason found that a mentally healthy workplace is a powerful magnet for attracting and retaining workers.
Today a mentally healthy workplace is the second most important factor in our decision to accept a new position, just behind pay! And it makes us more committed to our job and less likely to seek other employment.
On the flip side, almost half of the employees surveyed have left a workplace because it had a poor environment in terms of mental health.
Not to mention, the impact of mental health conditions on productivity, participation and compensation claims has been estimated by PwC to cost Australian businesses approximately $11 billion a year.
We can make a pretty simple assumption from these numbers that it is in the interests of all businesses and their profitability to address mental health conditions in the workplace.
The PwC research also highlights the prevalence of mental health issues in business and prominence in different sectors, and the positive return on investment of creating a mentally healthy workplace.
So what is required to create a mentally healthy workplace? That’s the key question!
Ultimately it comes down to creating a positive workplace culture and providing the opportunity for all workers to have a great day.
When we spend so much of our lives at work, we want to have a great day!
So we need to look at how employers and employees can work together to create more great days at work.
Having great days at work is not all about having fun, it’s providing a friendly and supportive environment that minimises workplace risks related to mental health, supports people with mental health conditions appropriately and prevents discrimination.
A recently released research paper Good Day at Work by Robertson Cooper showcases how organisations can support employee wellbeing by helping them build physical energy levels and focus on emotional energy.
In the past organisations have tended to implement wellbeing programs as activities on a sceptical workforce, rather than being embedded in an organisation’s culture.
Today we are seeing more organisations identifying the need to integrate a mental health focus into their overall corporate culture, business practices and team building programs.
So it’s important for us to understand that creating an environment that prioritises employee wellbeing will lead to a positive workplace culture, and vice versa.
One of our goals for 2017 is to contribute to the education of business on how vital a positive team culture is and how this can impact the mental wellbeing of employees.
I would love to hear from you if you are looking for further education, training or conference planning about mental health in the workplace and creating a positive team culture.
Let 2017 be the year to make a difference in workplace wellbeing!
Anita Kropacsy is Corporate Training Manager for Corporate Challenge Events – a specialist in the education of workplace wellbeing across New Zealand and Australia.