Many managers assume that an employee’s mental health is none of their concern when, in fact, it can have an enormous impact on their performance, as well as that of their co-workers. It can also have a negative impact on the company’s bottom line. One in five Americans has a diagnosable mental health condition, so it’s a business imperative to make employee mental health a concern.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that mental illness and substance abuse cost businesses between $79 and $105 billion yearly. Reduced productivity, absenteeism, and higher healthcare costs are just a few of the ways mental illness costs employers.
Creating a Healthy Workplace
A healthy workplace is one where workers and managers actively contribute to the working environment by promoting and protecting the health, safety and well-being of all employees.
Mental health interventions should be delivered as part of an integrated health and wellness strategy that covers prevention, early identification, support and rehabilitation.
A recent WHO-led study estimated that for every $1 put into scaled-up treatment for common mental health disorders, businesses realize a return of $4 in improved health and productivity.
How to Encourage Good Employee Mental Hygiene
It’s up to leadership to set the tone for a healthy working environment. Here are a few tips that can help.
Promote work/life balance. Management needs to walk the walk and talk the talk so teams will be comfortable knowing that their “me” time is valuable. Encourage employees to use their paid time off. Leadership must do the same to serve as role models.
No 24/7 email. Promoting an environment where employees are expected to be “always on” isn’t healthy. Volkswagen has a great employee-centric email policy: Email servers stop routing messages 30 minutes after the end of employees’ shifts and start again 30 minutes before they return.
End the cult of overwork. The pervasiveness of an always-on work culture can be harmful. It’s not healthy when employees compete to be last to leave the office, nor should it be a status symbol to continually talk about how busy they are. Productivity and performance should be the predictors of success, not hours logged.
Encourage the use of EAPs. It’s been proven time and time again that mentally healthy employees are more productive, have fewer absences, and are less prone to work-related injury. When management encourages their team members to use the services an EAP provides, employees gain confidence that they’re working in a supportive environment, which, in turn can improve satisfaction and employee engagement.
Employee Assistance Network has been helping companies and government organizations across Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee for more than 30 years. We are a recognized leading provider of Employee Assistance Programs, managed behavioral healthcare services and work-related training and education programs. For more information or to download our overview brochure please visit www.eannc.com.