Many companies have figured out that adding mental health benefits far outweighs the cost.
Stress has continued to rise in the United States, and as a result, Americans are some of the most stressed people across the globe. According to the 2019 Gallup Emotions survey, over half of the population admits to feeling stressed, and 1 in 5 feel angry. This puts American citizens above the stress levels of those surveyed in Venezuela, Uganda, and Rwanda, and well above many countries in Western Europe.
Where does that stress come from? The answer may be with the office. 83% of U.S. workers suffer from work-related stress.
Stress can result in or exacerbate both physical and mental illness. If left alone, the cost of mental illness in the workplace can decrease productivity and teamwork. And it can hemorrhage money. Mental health and stress take up to 8% of national healthcare spending.
Employers have since figured out that investing in mental health and wellness for their employees can reduce overall costs and improve workplace morale. Workers want better mental health benefits, too, with 27% of employees desiring support for stress, burnout, and other mental health issues.
Workers want better mental health benefits, too, with 27% of employees desiring support for stress, burnout, and other mental health issues.
What are mental health benefits?
Mental health benefits can relate to a more comprehensive health insurance plan that includes counseling or therapy. It can also be an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which is a more general service to help employees solve problems — whether those problems relate to finances, stress, or other non-work conflicts. In addition, many top tier EAPs offer mental health services, usually through in-person, telephonic, or video counseling.
Whether you decide to implement one or both of these solutions, mental health benefits offer an extra level of support to employees whenever they require it. And it provides significant returns for businesses.
Three crucial reasons employers are adding mental health benefits to their employee package are improved employee health, burnout prevention, and increased productivity.
1. Improve your employees’ overall health
Mental illness can severely affect an employee’s mental health. An employee suffering from depression, for example, is more likely to be susceptible to cancer or heart disease. What this means is that you and your employee ends up spending more for healthcare in the long-run if their depression is not addressed.
Employers who invest in mental health benefits are also reducing threats to their employees’ physical health and reducing long-term healthcare spending.
2. Prevent burnout
Burnout often leads to employee turnover and absenteeism, which costs even more. On average, absenteeism can cost a company $3,600 per year for hourly workers and $2,650 for salaried workers. Turnover is even worse. An employee with a $45,000 salary can cost as much as $15,000 to replace.
Often caused by stress and overwork, you can tackle burnout on multiple fronts. But mental health benefits that reduce burnout also increase retention, lower absenteeism, and create a healthier workplace culture.
3. Increase productivity
Due to absenteeism, turnover, and general stress, employees become less productive. Mental illness can disrupt more than work: It affects peer communication and community building. Globally, mental health issues cost business $1 trillion due to lost productivity.
Mental health benefits can help employees improve their stress and coping mechanisms while decreasing their risk of physical illness. More content employees also better communicate with their managers, their team, and other departments. All of these details contribute to higher productivity, which also means a better bottom-line.
How to support your employees outside of mental health benefits
The cost of supporting your employees with mental health benefits can be affordable. In fact, it’s usually under $500 per person.
The cost of supporting your employees with mental health benefits can be affordable. In fact, it’s usually under $500 per person. But there are other mental health friendly strategies that can help your employees cope in the office:
- Offer “mental health days” for when employees need a break
- Ensure that individual workloads are manageable
- Consider setting up an EAP to help employees solve problems
- Offer resiliency and stress training
- Provide childcare services
- Check in with employees regularly
- Offer flexible scheduling
- Overcommunicate with employees to ensure they are clear on roles and expectations
- Watch out for unfair or discriminatory treatment
- Emphasize the importance of physical health and nutrition
Of course, you’ll also want to ensure that your employees are aware of not only your mental health benefits package, but that other options are available as well. And while mental health packages are a significant part of the solution, what really matters is company culture. If you build a culture around caring about your employees, then you will find that mental health issues are easier to identify in the office.