Business leaders, a warning. These statistics might shock you and galvanise you into action!
To ‘dabble’ is defined as taking part in an activity in a casual or superficial way. When it comes to corporate culture and wellbeing initiatives, ‘dabbling’ is no longer an option.
Having worked in the industry for over 15 years, we have seen it all. Staff wellbeing programs launched and then suddenly cut because funding was re-allocated. Employees surveyed and then nothing done. Worse still, the growing epidemic of work-related stress and mental health issues which can lead to suicide, simply being ignored.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. We’ve also experienced employers and business leaders who truly care about their team’s engagement, contribution, health and happiness, and seen wellbeing programs and initiatives deliver fantastic, long-standing results. Research shows an ROI of between $3-5 on every dollar invested in wellbeing programs, and $2.03 in mental health initiatives.1
As levels of work-related stress and mental health issues continue to climb, it’s our responsibility as providers of wellness services to take a stronger stand and share our knowledge and experience. We need to get the message out there. Health and wellbeing at work MUST be higher on the priority list if we are to combat the mental health epidemic gripping our organisations.
Mental health issues are the leading cause of illness, absenteeism, presenteeism (attending work and under-performing while unwell) and long-term-work incapacity in Australia.2 Suicide levels are climbing at an alarming rate. Eight Australians die by their own hand each day, six of them men.3
For every person who takes their own life, there are another 30 attempts, with nearly 86,000 Australians attempting suicide each year. Suicide is the most common cause of death in Australians aged 15-44, more likely to kill than a motor vehicle accident or skin cancer. Studies show workplace bullying costs Australian organisations $6-$36 billion a year.4 The numbers are shocking.
An alarming 20 per cent of suicides are linked to work. At a summit in May 2017, crisis support service Lifeline said we were facing a “national suicide emergency.”5
And yet many HR teams and business leaders are not even talking about these issues. Either they are unaware, only ‘dabbling’ in wellbeing, or, worse still, they do not regard employee wellbeing as a priority. Herein lies the problem.
For our workplaces to thrive, it’s critical that employers and business leaders create supportive work cultures of wellness on an ongoing basis. It’s imperative they include employee wellbeing as business objective. Smart companies know that investing in their people improves the bottom line; it’s just common sense.
We need to encourage relaxation, slowing down and taking mental breaks throughout the day. Studies show the brain is 31% more productive in a positive state, rather than neutral, negative or stressed.6
Workers need to become ‘self-led leaders,’ taking responsibility and prioritising their health and wellbeing and that of those around them.
We need to remove the culture of shame, blame, and cynicism and be willing to address mental health as we do any other health issue.
We need structural change within industries and workplace norms, and the support and funding of government.
Sadly, this epidemic is not going away. The increasing use of technology, social media and virtual reality will raise stress levels further, worsening the impact on our health.
The situation is critical. Many Australians are unwell and it’s costing our organisations millions of dollars each year. It’s no longer enough to expect HR managers, or people passionate about wellness, to be your organisation’s advocates for a culture of wellness.
This is why HSG is in business, and has been for over 15 years. We can be your partner in wellness, working with you and your leaders to design a program which decreases disengagement, depression, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed, and improves the engagement, health, happiness, productivity and performance of your staff.
Let’s work together to design and deploy world-class, transformational wellness programs that lead to positive cultural change and greater commercial success for your organisation.
Written by HSG’s facilitator of change, Kyla Tustin.
1 Harvard Business Review
2 Mental health and work: Impact, issues and good practices, by Gaston Harnois & Phyllis Gabriel, World Health Organization, Geneva 2000
4 NSW Department of Education
6 Shawn Anchor, Positive Psychologist Researcher