Mental Health Issues Affecting Productivity in the Workplace
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Mental Health Issues Affecting Productivity in the Workplace

The steady increase of mental health issues worldwide has been well-documented, and its effects on the workforce are dramatic. Nearly one-fifth of U.S. workers report mental health that is only fair, or poor, and the negative impact on productivity is measurable.

However, providing mental health support services and ensuring employee awareness of them is an important step towards improving the lives of these workers and reaping the productivity benefits in the process. Research has shown that more than half of workers either have no mental health support services, or do not know if they do or not.

A 2022 report from Gallup contains some troubling findings. Not only do nearly one-fifth of U.S. workers (19%) rate their mental health as fair or poor, but on an annual basis they are estimated to have nearly 12 days of unplanned absences annually compared to only 2.5 days for all other workers. That is the most easily measurable impact on productivity, common sense suggests that there are also other less easily detectable productivity impacts as well. With an estimated cost to the U.S. economy of $47.6 billion annually, every company should be strategizing ways to address this problem with sustained initiatives.

Even more worrisome is the report’s finding that one-fourth of the workers surveyed reported that their job has an extremely negative (7%) or somewhat negative (33%) impact on their mental health. Looking only at results from workers 49 years old or younger, the number leaps from 25% to well over 40%.

Certain industries are hit harder than others, with Government, Transportation, and Technology workers hit hardest. Health Care, Higher Education, Law, and Finance are close behind.

  4 Ways to improve mental health

Here are four ways that employers can help improve the mental health and well-being of employees:
  1. Have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and strongly promote the use of it as a normal, everyday part of life. If employees see EAP as a “last ditch”, desperate measure, they will not use it much and they (and you) will not benefit from it.
  2. Organize Management Training: Provide managers with training to help them recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and depression in team members and encourage them to seek help from qualified mental health professiona
  3. Build Community. A sense of community is a significant contributor to well-being. There are professional Community Managers who work closely with your internal teams to plan, design, and execute on workplace employee engagement events (both virtual and onsite) as well as activities to include employees’ families.
  4. Share the Load. Some employers provide Concierge Services to reduce employee stress and therefore improve mental health. Helping your employees with everyday tasks such as simple errands, booking a family trip, finding that house cleaner and everything in between – they have a dramatic impact on employees’ quality of life.
Based on the data in this report, even an entry-level workers can cost a few thousand dollars of lost productivity per year in any of the main industries affected (see above). The investment in employee metal health is really an investment, it saves/earns more money than it costs.