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Measuring the cost of work-related stress in your mental health policy

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By Dr Julia Lyons

Employee wellbeing is an essential aspect of any organisation’s success. Work-related stress costs the UK economy over £5 billion annually in lost productivity, sick leave, and staff turnover. Alongside this, there are a variety of factors that affect employees dealing with work-related stress, from burnout, to long-term sickness, and a reduction in work satisfaction.

Why do some organisations not yet have a mental health policy, when investing in a mental health policy makes good business sense?

Research has found that employees experiencing work stress are 50% more likely to take time off, leading to a 37% reduction in productivity (HSE, 2018). This in turn can impact revenue and productivity. Chronic-prolonged stress can cost businesses up to £2,500 per employee each year.

Many organisations may not be aware of the importance of mental health in the workplace or the potential impact of high-pressure and stressful work environments on employee wellbeing and productivity. In regard to mental health training, managers and supervisors may not have the necessary skills to identify and manage work-related stress and mental health issues in the workplace. However, when an organisation can recognise the importance of investing in comprehensive mental health programmes and policies, there are many benefits – both financially for the organisation and for the wellbeing of the workforce.

Measuring the cost of mental health in the workplace

Similar to the process of a health and safety audit, a clinically evidence-based mental health audit looks at various risk factors within an organisation that could negatively impact the mental wellbeing of employees.

An audit measures a business’s current practice against a defined standard. These standards form part of clinical governance, which aims to safeguard high-quality mental healthcare for all employees and those at senior managerial levels.

With more businesses needing to reduce overheads and costs, an audit can help executives make more informed decisions around employee welfare, from where to allocate resources to prevent overworking and burnout, to predicting the likelihood of sickness, thereby maximising productivity and engagement in teams.

Now and more than ever, it’s important to break the stigma surrounding mental health and encourage more employees to seek help, leading to a happier, healthier, and more inclusive work culture.

An audit is an ideal way for companies to future-proof their business and adjust to the ever-changing climate of the workplace, where employees can feel that they are supported by their organisation.

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