Prioritizing Your Employees’ Mental Health Can Boost Productivity

As an employer, you have a vested interest in your employees’ mental health. Not only does helping them find strategies for maintaining a healthy work-life balance elevate retention; it can also boost productivity. The 2024 NAMI/Ipsos Workplace Mental Health Poll has some valuable insights about how and why you should nurture your workforce so they’ll experience less burnout.

Mental Health Discussions at Work

While most employees surveyed (74%) feel like talking about mental health in the workplace is appropriate, only 58% feel comfortable doing so. Part of the problem is a lack of training. 83% of employees agree mental health training is important in creating a positive workplace culture, but 70% of senior-level managers report not having received training to prepare them for these conversations.

The Gap in Comfort

It’s also interesting to note that the comfort level in discussing mental health varies across different industries. Service industry (79%) and professional workers (74%) feel that mental health conversations at work are appropriate. What’s concerning is that only 67% of workers in manufacturing feel the same way. That’s still a majority, but it indicates industrial employers have some ground to make up in convincing their teams that “it’s ok to not be ok.”

Access to Mental Health Care

In an era where benefits are rising in importance for attracting and retaining employees, there’s some worrisome news about their access to mental health care coverage. Only 60% of those surveyed said their job covers mental health services. And in retail, one of the more stressful sectors, that number goes down to less than half (42%). The survey also found that a significant number of employees don’t know whether mental health care is covered or how to access it.

Good Mental Health = More Productivity

Multiple studies show that depression, anxiety, and stress all drag down production numbers. Psychology Today points out the opposite is also true. “Increasing productivity is just one of the countless benefits of properly treating anxiety and depression,” according to the authors of Mental Health and Productivity. The publication also references the research of Andrew J. Oswald, Eugenio Proto, and Daniel Sgroi, who found that study participants in “happiness interventions” ended up 12% more productive as a result.

All of this serves as a reminder to employers that to foster mental health among their employees, they need to work on three things:

  • Establishing a culture in which mental health discussions aren’t only viewed as appropriate and safe but encouraged.
  • Training management to prepare them for these discussions.
  • Bolster the level of mental health coverage provided by their businesses and more effectively access that care.

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