The well-being of employees is an essential aspect of any organisation’s success. While it may seem like a significant investment to prioritise mental health, the cost of turning a blind eye to a strategy for managing stress in a mental health policy can be much higher in the long term, according to Onebright Senior Counselling Psychologist Dr Julia Lyons.
Work-related stress costs the UK economy over £28 billion annually in lost productivity, sick leave, and staff turnover. Furthermore, employees experiencing work stress can suffer from burnout, long-term sickness, and reduced job satisfaction. This can ultimately lead to a negative impact on company culture and a decline in employee well-being.
Why do some businesses ignore the impact of work-related stress on their bottom line?
Lack of Awareness: Many organisations may not be aware of the importance of mental health in the workplace or the potential impact of high-pressure and stressful work environments on employee well-being and productivity.
Fear of Stigma: There may be a culture of fear and stigma surrounding mental health issues in the workplace, leading some companies to avoid addressing mental health issues altogether.
Lack of Training: Managers and supervisors may not have the necessary training or skills to identify and manage work-related stress and mental health issues in the workplace.
Where is the hidden cost of ignoring work stress?
Ignoring work-related stress in mental health policies can have severe financial consequences for businesses. Firstly, employees who feel supported will likely be more productive. Research has shown that employees experiencing work stress are 50% more likely to take time off, leading to a 37% reduction in productivity (HSE, 2018). This means that businesses without a mental health policy and those that don’t implement strategies to manage work-related stress are likely to experience a decrease in productivity and an increase in staff turnover, leading to a loss in revenue.
Secondly, work-related stress can lead to absenteeism, where employees take time off work due to stress-related illnesses. It can also lead to presenteeism, where employees come to work but are less productive due to stress.
What is the cost of ignoring work stress to employees?
The impact of work-related stress goes beyond financial costs. Failing to acknowledge and put mental health resources in place for work stress can significantly affect employee well-being, decreasing job satisfaction, low morale, and increasing sick days.
Breaking the stigma surrounding mental health can encourage more employees to seek help, leading to a happier, healthier and more inclusive work culture where people feel taken care of staying longer in their place of employment.
If there is a lack of support for mental health issues, this can breed a culture of fear that leaves people left to suffer in silence.
Is there a way to measure the cost of mental health in the workplace?
Yes. Through a clinically-informed mental health audit performed by a mental health specialist, every business now has a unique opportunity to truly understand and quantify the cost of mental health and wellbeing in their business.
Suppose a current employee wellbeing report fails to include metrics that point out potential risks for employee mental health or areas in the workplace that could be causing a high staff turnover. In that case, it could be costing the business thousands of pounds.
How to start building a corporate mental health policy?
The first step businesses will need to take is to conduct a mental health audit with the guidance of a mental health consultant. A mental health audit provides a customised workforce survey and review, ranging from a quick temperature check of organisational wellbeing to a detailed screening of current staff mental health.
From there, an audit will direct and inform a mental health policy under the recommendations of a mental health expert.
Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.