Supporting Employees with a Mental Health Plan
As an employer, you probably know that it is in your best interest – both from a legal and a financial standpoint – to protect the physical health of your employees. But have you stopped to consider how you might also protect the mental health of those employees? Having a mental health plan in place is good for business, and in this article, we will discuss why.
How Does Mental Health Affect My Workforce?
Mental health is as important to employee productivity as physical health. Additional information from the World Health Organization shows there is good evidence to suggest that mental health also affects physical health. While employers might have many steps in place, through policies and procedures, to deal with the subject of physical health, not many have these steps to cover mental health. While all companies are required by Provincial Law to have a Health & Safety policy, this only deals with physical health and safety; no law or act requires the same care for the mental health of its workforce. Despite the lack of required policy, it is up to business leaders to set the standards and establish a guideline whereby the mental health of employees is treated the same as their physical health.
When left unaddressed, mental illness in the workplace can lead to two major problems: absenteeism and presenteeism.
Absenteeism creates obvious problems: assigning work to other colleagues and increasing the burden on them, and costs incurred for recruiting and training temporary staff if it is a long absence. It isn’t a closely guarded secret that lost productivity often leads to lost revenue. Studies showed that as recently as 2013, Canadian companies were losing $16.6 Billion per year, caused by the effects of absenteeism as a result of mental health.
The second issue is slightly more surprising, however much more damaging to a business. This is presenteeism!
Presenteeism is a phenomenon researched by the Harvard Business Review in which employees are present at work, but due to ongoing physical or mental health issues, they are not productive. Worse still is the potential that these employees could be making mistakes in their work, mistakes that could prove costly to correct later. Presenteeism is likely to happen when workers do not feel that they can take time from work due to pressures from bosses, policies, or workload. Taking time off for these employees can actually feel more stressful than staying at work.
Create a Mental Health Action Plan
So, what can you do to support your employees’ mental health and avoid the damaging and often costly effects that mental illness, stress, and fatigue can have on a business? One step that you can take right away is to implement a mental health action plan.
Start by evaluating the specific stressors that exist in your work environment and look for evidence of employee absenteeism or presenteeism that may be caused by mental health issues. Look for ways that you can address these problems. Can you eliminate some of the stressors? What policies can you implement to help ensure employees are getting a good work-life balance? And what help do you have available through your group benefit plan or community resources for employees that are dealing with mental illness?
Communicate & Train
Your plan should include how you communicate to your employees that their mental well-being is important to you, training for your managers on how to address mental health issues, and ways to assist employees dealing with mental health challenges.
Improve ROI with a Mental Health Action Plan
By drafting, implementing, and communicating your company’s mental health action plan to your employees, you will not only be creating a more positive work environment, but you are also likely to see a return on investment in terms of increased productivity, better employee retention, and possibly even higher profits!
TeksMed Can Help!
At TeksMed, we offer many programs that help support the mental health of your employees. A health workplace results in high ROI. Contact us today for more information.