There’s an ulterior motive behind all those corporate mindfulness programs. The evidence is mounting that employees’ mental health is as important to corporate health as their physical fitness.
From small businesses to major corporations, employers are wising up to the importance of a happy, healthy workforce. A new generation of wellness initiatives is placing mental health at the heart of organisations. For some, it’s become part of their mission statement.
Forward thinking global companies such as Google – famed for free food, education programs and health and leisure facilities – has long been offering a progressive work environment. But the latest workplace wellbeing movement runs deeper than cool offices and tempting perks.
Companies are striving to build better mental health into their very foundations, and their efforts come in response to overwhelming evidence that they need to be trying much harder.
In the 2014 State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia study for beyondblue, one in five Australians reported they had taken time off work in the past 12 months because they felt stressed, anxious, depressed or mentally unhealthy. This statistic was more than twice as high among those who said they considered their workplace mentally unhealthy. Worryingly, only 52 per cent of employees said they considered their workplace mentally healthy.
That same year, a comprehensive review on mental health in the Australian workplace, from the National Mental Health Commission and the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance, with the University of NSW and Black Dog Institute, concluded that mental illness-related absences, along with long term work incapacity, cost Australian businesses in the vicinity of $11 billion each year.