Wellbeing programs and workplace mental health training have become increasingly prevalent in Australian workplaces. However, the quality and impact of these programs can differ significantly. While gestures like providing free yoga classes and weekly fruit box deliveries are undoubtedly thoughtful, it is worth considering whether they truly demonstrate a company’s dedication to their employees’ mental health. Do these investments genuinely contribute to mentally healthy teams and the mental wellbeing of employees and the overall success of the company? Can they be measured in tangible outcomes?

Mentally Healthy Workplaces

Impaired mental health costs Australian workforces an estimated $17 billion annually, with immeasurable impact on individuals. Establishing mentally healthy workplaces is crucial. By making sustained efforts and investing in care, we can reduce costs and demonstrate a clear return on investment. At WeCARE365, we witness positive outcomes daily.

Organisations prioritise mentally healthy workplaces and teams. Employees’ wellbeing plays a crucial role in achieving organisational goals, and employers recognise the significance of a mentally healthy and resilient workforce. When employees lack proper support, it undoubtedly affects the business. So, the question is, how can we effectively measure a mentally healthy workplace?

The hesitation to seek help due to the fear of stigma

Employee engagement surveys and cultural audits offer insights into an organisation’s current state. While they may not focus on mental health directly, they provide a snapshot of employee well-being and satisfaction. The effectiveness of these tools depends on their depth and quality. Comprehensive and well-designed surveys and audits yield meaningful data, revealing an organisation’s strengths, areas for improvement, and opportunities to enhance employee well-being.

Some organisations we’ve worked with use Employee Assistance Program (EAP) usage to assess employee mental health. However, this approach has its limitations. It’s not accurate to assume that EAP utilisation alone reflects the overall mental wellness of an entire organisation. For example, EAP usage may increase temporarily after high-profile incidents or awareness campaigns, but it may not represent the typical state of mental health within the organisation. Moreover, in workplaces lacking psychological safety, individuals may hesitate to seek help due to the fear of stigma. Unfortunately, this fear may be justified based on past treatment of people with mental health challenges.

Measuring a mentally healthy workplace

Poor mental health can lead to absenteeism and presenteeism, negatively impacting productivity, engagement, performance, and overall effectiveness. Absenteeism, measured through costs associated with leave without pay and sick leave, provides some insight into team mental health. Recruitment and retention costs can also be monitored. High turnover rates affect individuals and the entire team, eroding psychological safety. Increased stress levels hinder effective mitigation strategies when employees are in survival mode.

Investing in employee care is crucial, as the impact goes beyond finances. A mentally healthy workplace is invaluable. Superficial solutions won’t yield meaningful returns. A comprehensive approach, tailored to employees’ needs and workplace mental health training are necessary. Here are some important approaches to improve employee mental health:

  • Seek to build at an individual level by teaching people how to better manage inevitable stress. How can I build my resilience? What are more healthy coping mechanisms I can adopt? How can I reduce my stress triggers in the day-to-day of doing my job? 
  • Help people recognise the signs that a colleague might be struggling and have the confidence and ability to safely steer them towards appropriate care without judgement and fear of stigma and professional repercussions. 

When everyone, not just the leadership team or Mental Health First Aiders, possesses the skills to maintain their own mental wellbeing and support their colleagues, it leads to a mentally healthy workforce where people feel valued and safe. The return on investment for a program that achieves this? If you’re interested in learning more about how WeCARE contributes to creating a mentally healthy workplace, simply fill out this form and a member of our team will contact you.

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