Half the Story - Workplace Mental Health
I sat in a meeting yesterday and heard someone say that it was impossible to stop a worker suffering from a psychological injury. It was their belief that any intervention in the psychological space in the workplace should be driven by exposure minimisation and reducing subsequent claims costs.
Half the Story
Yes, they were right about the cost minimisation, but I feel they missed the point of what an effective workplace mental health plan/policy/strategy (call it what you want) can do for a business’s bottom line. Without getting bogged down in the sheer volume of audited research, the general consensus is that a correctly implemented, holistic mental health initiative can have between $2.30 and $7.50 ROI per $1 spent. Here are some of the ways that this happens:
Your star performer feels comfortable enough to approach their manager to discuss flexible working arrangements to take care of their levels of stress rather than handing in their surprise resignation.
A worker feels unable to come to work due to a heightened level of anxiety, they call in a fictitious aliment to justify a day off, time and time again. OR their supervisor will notice a few key signs and have an emotionally intelligent chat about their condition, suggest they take a mental health day and engage with professional support to get back to full engagement.
Culture of Respect
Rather than have a simmering personality conflict between two staff members which can quickly morph into stress and anxiety, the team have shared social experiences, have built trust and maintain confidence that their manager can have careful, constructive and timely conversations with all parties involved.
Prevention is better than the Cure
So, while there is certainly a place for tertiary intervention at the point where a mental illness has become evident, it must not be treated as the modus operandi. A holistic, full range of intervention will have the best chance of creating a productive organisation. If you stop at the first way of thinking then you will be chasing your tail, both financially and in making real improvements in your workplace’s mental health.