What Does Poor Employee Mental Health Cost a Business?

May 21 | 2019

As the stigma around talking about mental health issues begins to disintegrate (albeit, still too slowly), employers are seeing rising incidence rates of mental health issues in the workplace. People are more comfortable than ever talking about what’s bothering them at home or at work, so employers can expect to see this trend continue. Those looking to keep employees happy, productive, and engaged, as well as reduce costs for their own business, should have mental health on their mind.

Good or Bad, Employee Mental Health Has a Cost

A “good” cost might be the cost to supply mental health resources or programs to employees or the cost in absenteeism of providing mental health days. It costs money, but it’s for a good reason. The “bad” costs are a bit more involved (and far more costly).

We’ve already established that there is a connection between mental health and disability claims in a previous blog post (short version: mentally healthy employees go on disability far less frequently), so there’s a lot of time and money on the line for employers if they’re not doing all they can for their employees’ mental health. Let’s take a closer look at the potential costs to a business using an example:

    • Alex is a tenured employee working at a small consulting firm in administration, a department of one. He’s the main point of contact for clients, and is responsible for much of the key day-to-day operations for the firm.
    • Alex’s home life has changed recently. His aging mother has moved into the home, causing Alex additional stress, financial strain and a drastic change to his home life. These changes begin to eat away at his mental health and affect his work.
    • Over the next few weeks, Alex shows increased absenteeism and calls in sick more often. When he is at work, he’s often distracted thinking about what’s happening at home. His productivity declines and his workload becomes more and more unmanageable, which only increases his stress.

In extreme cases, Alex might also become so overwhelmed that he takes a disability leave or decides to leave his position entirely to care for his mother. In either case, his employer has lost a valuable, tenured employee at a great detriment to their business.

What could the employer in this scenario have done to help Alex through his tough time?

Offer An Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides employees with access to accredited professional to help work through some of life’s challenges. In Amy’s case, an EAP could provide resources and assistance for her increased stress, eldercare concerns, and financial troubles. With these resources available, it’s statistically more likely that Amy would be able to manage her stress and workload and continue to work. At the very least, she would feel supported by her workplace and likely to return.

We’re not going to pretend that EAPs are the answer to the mental health crisis in Canada, but what we will say is that EAPs can be an effective way to help employees manage stress and address personal problems to improve productivity and performance at work.

We’ve created an ebook all about EAPs and the value they can bring to a business. With our new change in provider for our Employee Assistance and Business Assistance Plans, we’re more confident than ever in an EAP’s ability to help working Canadians manage and improve their mental health.

Check out a preview of the ebook, then download the full version below!

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