One in five Australians will experience a mental health condition in any given year. PwC estimates that absenteeism resulting from employee mental health conditions costs Australian businesses $4.7 billion per annum, equivalent to 1.1 million days’ sick leave. 91% of workers in Australia believe mental health in the workplace is important.
ANZRP is currently implementing its first Employee Assistance Program (EAP), a voluntary and confidential service to help employees at all levels who have personal concerns that affect their personal wellbeing and/or work performance. This generally takes the form of employer funded counselling sessions for those staff who require assistance.
As a certified B Corporation, we are committed to constant improvement of our practices. Under B Corp certification, workers are a key category against which performance is measured, and we know that employee wellbeing is a factor that jobseekers are increasingly searching for. Engaging an EAP service allows employees access to support from independent and impartial professionals who can better equip them for challenges and change.
Employers face an evolving, fast-paced business landscape, and there are countless benefits to taking a proactive approach to staff wellbeing – not to mention the risks of falling behind.
A report by PwC and Beyond Blue on Creating a mentally healthy workplace – Return on investment analysis outlined the ROI benefits of implementing mental wellbeing initiatives. It found mental health conditions present substantial costs to organisations. However, through the successful implementation of an effective action to create a mentally healthy workplace, organisations on average can expect a positive return on investment (ROI) of 2.3. That is, for every dollar spent on successfully implementing an appropriate action, there is on average $2.30 in benefits to be gained by the organisation. These benefits typically take the form of improved productivity, via reduced absenteeism and presenteeism (reduced productivity at work), and lower numbers of compensation claims.
Offering EAPs to employees demonstrates the employer is genuinely concerned about the employee’s happiness. It’s reported that 51 percent of employees stay at a job due to positive relationships with co-workers. EAPs can assist with conflict resolution and provide tools to handle workplace challenges.
Employers have a duty of care under workplace health and safety legislation, including the Occupational Health & Safety Act (2004) (Vic) , to provide and maintain (as far as is reasonably practicable) a safe workplace. These statutory and common law duties extend to risks to employees’ psychological safety, as well as their physical safety.
Given that untreated mental health conditions (including workplace stress) result in over 6 million lost working days and 12 million days of reduced productivity every year in Australia , providing access to professional support through an EAP can help employees resolve workplace stress and prevent burnout before issues become overwhelming and potentially result in lost working days and reduced productivity. Based on a current Australian workforce of 13 million this equates to an average of 1.38 days of lost productivity per employee, per year.
Presenteeism, where people are less productive in their role due to factors like workplace stress or a mental health condition, is estimated to cost Australian business $6.1 billion a year. This cost is based on the assumption that workers are 50% less productive. This figure is then multiplied by the amount of time the person is assumed to be working but is less productive than normal.
The business case is clear
The business environment is rapidly changing, and the speed of this change in some areas can catch even the most resilient of workplaces by surprise. Aside from ‘seeming like the right thing to do’, providing proactive mental health initiatives makes business sense. Many businesses fund physical preventative health initiatives like ergonomic assessments, equipment and flu vaccinations, and mental wellbeing programs are no different.