Many factors affect turnover, like employee engagement, job satisfaction, organizational politics and lack of communication. But there are two major factors HR can keep a look out for that can damage employee retention – depression and anxiety.
Both of these mental health disorders have a huge economic impact. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression and anxiety are responsible for an estimated cost of $1 trillion per year in lost productivity. The reason for that huge total is an estimated 264 million people suffer from depression and many of them suffer from symptoms of anxiety, too. The good news is that for every $1 invested in better treatments for common mental health disorders, there’s an ROI of $4 in improved health and productivity.
Depression, anxiety affect co-workers, business
And employees’ mental health doesn’t just have a negative impact on employees themselves, it affects their co-workers, their work and the business as a whole.
In the Ginger report, “Workforce attitudes toward mental health,” CEOs said they recognize the impact that employees’ mental health has on work, and 80% of them believe poor mental health negatively impacts employee productivity.
Virgin Pulse did a test on its members and compared those who reported a high risk of depression and anxiety, and those who didn’t. What they found was a statistically significant difference (0.23). “In a world of behavioral and social sciences where complex and difficult-to-quantify relationships exist, that is a significant correlation,” stated the researchers.
You would think that going into our third year of a pandemic people’s mental health would be improving. Unfortunately, it’s not. It’s at an all-time low, according to Lyra Health which surveyed more than 1,000 full-time employees and 250 benefits leaders in the U.S.
Thirty-one percent of workers said that over the past year their mental health has declined.
All is not lost. With August being National Wellness month, what better time than now for HR to renew its focus on wellness by targeting efforts to improve employees’ mental health which hopefully will help retain employees?
Want happy workers? Make sure they have workplace friendships and feel connected at work. Having positive connections at work has a positive impact on mental health, job satisfaction and productivity, according to Virgin Pulse.
Lonely employees are two times more likely to call out due to illness, five time more likely to skip work due to stress and two times more likely to think about quitting, according to Cigna’s Loneliness in the workplace survey.
Encourage workers to go hold group lunches, happy hours, team-building activities and the like. Anything that’ll get workers bonded will improve their mental health and help decrease turnover. After all, employees who have good friends at work don’t want to leave them.
Review mental health benefits usage
Make sure employees are using the mental health benefits you provide. Otherwise, the company is throwing money out the window, and employees’ mental health won’t improve.
Offering a diverse set of mental health benefits is one key. Raising awareness about what benefits are available and communicating about them often is another. And tying them to a tool employees already use is another. Digital apps help increase the ease of accessibility and make employees more likely to use them.
Remember 30% of emails go unopened, so get creative with your communications and messages.
Listen to your employees
We’ve said this before, but it’s vital to ask your employees what they want. HR professionals aren’t mind readers. While they might have a good idea of what employees need, best to get the facts from the horse’s mouth.
You could also ask employees what mental health benefits they feel are missing. Sometimes just asking a question in a different way helps spark ideas.
Create an open dialogue around mental health
It may sound corny, but encouraging company leaders to be open and honest about their struggles with stress, depression and anxiety can go a long way toward helping employees embrace their mental health benefits.
We have come a long way in breaking down the negative stigma attached to mental health conditions, but we still have progress to make. When employees see someone they respect and think has it all together open up about their struggles with mental health, it puts it in perspective that they’re human, too.
Employees who are struggling with depression and anxiety often think people they look up to have it all worked out and handled. But that’s rarely the case. When their eyes are opened, they see it’s OK to be human and struggle and seek help.
Your leaders are your own best promoters of your benefits.