Studies have provided clear evidence that poor mental health is associated with lost productivity. Such research has also made clear that workplace policies and programs that reduce and help employees manage stress at work can help improve workers’ productivity.
This relationship is increasingly being recognized by employers as well, who are beginning to offer mental health resources and support to their employees to improve productivity and overall well-being. The following article will look at this topic more closely.
Understanding why mental health matters when it comes to productivity
Mental health describes the emotional, psychological, and social well-being of an individual. It impacts how we think, feel, and act.
When our mental well-being is not optimal or we suffer from mental health problems, it can affect our ability to concentrate, make decisions, and complete tasks effectively. This can lead to decreased productivity at work as well as in other areas of life. Conversely, good mental health can improve our ability to think clearly, solve problems, and work effectively, usually leading to increased productivity.
Numerous studies have demonstrated this correlation between mental health and productivity.
They found e.g. that people with mental health disorders like depression and anxiety were more likely to be absent from work or demonstrate signs of presenteeism (i.e. reduced productivity while at work). The lost productivity due to these two mental disorders amounts to US$ 1 trillion each year. In total, poor mental health was estimated to cost the global economy approximately $2.5 trillion annually in poor health and reduced productivity.
Another study found that employees feeling mentally well were more likely to be engaged and motivated at work, leading to increased productivity.
The effect of mental health support on work productivity
Providing mental health support to employees can have a positive impact on their well-being and consequently on their productivity. Support offers can help workers to cope with private or professional problems effectively, maintaining good mental health as well as strengthening their resilience.
Moreover, it can also have a positive effect on employee retention and recruitment. Employees who feel well, supported, and valued are more likely to stay with a company, and the availability of mental health resources can be an attractive benefit for potential employees.
According to the WHO companies that implemented mental health programs saw an average return on investment of $4 for every $1 invested. Other studies found a significant positive effect of mental health programs on productivity and reducing absenteeism.
What can mental health support measures look like
Organizations can support their employees with a variety of measures:
- Creating awareness: Openly talking about mental health in the organization and individual teams can help to boost awareness. Communicating about your mental health efforts will help as well.
- Supporting: Social support from leaders and colleagues can be as simple as truly listening and checking in with others.
- Educating: Expert webinars or presentations, ebooks, or other on-demand resources can support you in educating your workforce about the importance of mental health and how they can help themselves and others to maintain good mental health.
- Training: Upskilling workshops or courses, especially for leaders and HR responsibles, will allow you to create mental health competencies in your organization e.g. around stress management.
- Introducing programs: Introducing mental health programs through solution providers like Likeminded will allow you to offer personalized support to your entire workforce. May it be through counseling, coaching, group workshops, or self-guided exercises. It will also enable your organization to make progress and the results of your mental health efforts measurable.
Employers should also invest in creating a supportive work environment that promotes mental well-being, through e.g.
- providing flexible work arrangements
- promoting work-life balance
- fostering a healthy communication and feedback culture
- addressing sources of stress or conflict within the workplace
Mental health and productivity are closely connected. Poor mental health can lead to decreased productivity, while good mental health can improve it.
Employers can support the mental well-being of their employees by offering programs and resources such as counseling, coaching, stress management training, and self-help tools and by creating a supportive work environment.