After many years of trying to make the economic case for workplace mental health, on the strength of what mental illness and mental injury is costing organizations, we have reached a pivotal point where doing nothing impedes business success. It appears that the inertia stems from conflicting business principles and the value organizations put on people.
Protecting the psychological health and safety of employees is now becoming a reality largely due to high profile challenges and litigation cases being won through the Charter, Labour laws and, Worker Compensation and OH&S regimes. While these have drawn attention for action the fact still remains that creating formal workplace mental health strategies makes good business sense. It will lead to a host of critical business outcomes and a broader level of economic and social wealth. Here’s why:
THE COST OF DOING NOTHING:
- 7 out of 10 adults affected by a mental health condition are in the workplace.
- Mental health issues are the leading cause of workforce disability
- Job performance is 7 times worse than employees without a condition
- On-the-job injuries are 40% more for employees with mental health and addiction problems.
- Stress related issues represent 40% of employee turnover costs
- Mental Injury:
- The courts and tribunals have rendered decisions related to negligent and chronic stress caused by excessive work demands and the conditions in which work affects an employee’s ability to function in their job or at home.
- Employers are now being faced with mounting legal pressures to ensure psychological health and safety in the workplace.
- Workers Compensation:
- Current challenges through the Charter are showing signs to include chronic job stress as a job injury.
- Any shift will require careful consideration of its impact on Workers Compensation costs.
- Cognitive impairment
- Depression is now being considered a cognitive disorder in addition to being a disturbance of mood.
- Cognitive function in depression compromises human capital value, especially in a brain based economy.
THE REWARDS OF DOING SOMETHING!
- Employers who set a strategic direction and invest in improving workplace mental health have shown to have higher returns on shareholder value, lower absence rates, improved employee retention and performance.
- Employers who view their drug and health benefit plan as an investment in employee mental health achieve better productivity and program savings in the longer term.
The time to act is now. The tools exist to assist. The National Standard of Canada on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace is a tool to begin the process towards a healthier and more productive work environment. I encourage all business leaders to take action.
It’s simply a good business decision.
Joseph Ricciuti is the President and CEO – SEB Benefits & HR Consulting Inc., and Co-Founder of Mental Health International