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Mental Health and Productivity

Updated: Feb 15, 2023

Contributors: Lori Schmidt, Advisory Board Member and Victoria Grainger, Founder, Wellness Works Canada

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Canadian companies lose an estimated $16.6 billion in productivity per year due to workers calling in sick as a result of mental health issues.  This trend is expected to increase in severity and this is having a measurable impact on business, productivity and talent retention.

And conservative estimates through the Canadian Center for Study of Living Standards, suggest that the number swells when taking into consideration those who are physically present at work but due to an unaddressed physical or mental health issue, are distracted to the point of reduced productivity.

The World Health Organization suggests that 60% of employees have experienced mental health issues in the past year because of work.  When there is a significant change in the work environment, it can affect the mental well-being of a person.  An unreasonable boss, an unrealistic target, lack of clarity in processes and structures, competition for positions, unpleasant colleagues, inconsistent values, health issues, etc. can affect the productivity of a person and in turn, cost the employer or company.

It’s a great thing that employers are now taking notice of the mental health of their workers.  Depression and anxiety are the two top issues impacting the majority of people around the world (World Health Organization).  Creating a healthy workplace is one of the most important things a leader can do to care for his/her people and it is of the utmost importance to prevent loss of productivity.  Having proper safety policies; involving employees in decision making; improving company culture through clear values of trust and respect; recognizing and rewarding employee efforts; effectively communicating about direction and tasks; providing support to discuss challenges; ensuring people succeed with an emphasis on teamwork; are just a few of the key opportunities to help address workforce mental health issues.

It’s important to note that every single one of us has mental health. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s poor. So, creating a healthy culture, reducing stigma and providing ample opportunities for early intervention at the sign of poor mental health are the most important factors to prevent loss of, and bolster organizational productivity.

The following resources are a great way to start creating a healthy, productive work environment:

  • Psychological Health and Safety Advisor Training will enable a champion in your organization to implement the National Standard on Psychological Health and Safety

  • Not Myself Today is a mental health campaign that can support healthy conversations about mental health

  • Mental Health First Aid training can certify employees to recognize, respond and guide peers to support to reduce the impact of poor mental health and ensure they get the help they need

  • How to Optimize Organizational Performance through Health is an article outlining a five-step process to create a healthy, high-performing culture

To access these resources and more click here. Pick one strategy and stick with it to support a healthy, productive culture.



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