A Harvard University study headed by Katherine Baicker of the School of Public health has found that wellness programs that focus on prevention have long-term benefits for companies.
The research found that amongst US companies medical costs fell by $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs and that absenteeism costs fell by $2.73 for every dollar spent.
This study is supported by the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance authored by PwC in conjunction with beyondblue in 2014, which found that for every dollar spent on workplace wellness, an average of $2.30 in benefits was gained.
The report by PwC said that mental health conditions had an $11 billion impact on Australian workplaces and addressing the impact led to more productivity and less absenteeism.
A 2018 figure by SafeWork Australia put a $10.9 billion price tag on the cost of poor mental health, disturbingly showing that there has not been a huge difference since the 2014 study.
Black Dog Institute researcher Aimee Gayed, together with the Workplace Mental Health Research Team, said that a mentally healthy workplace is of benefit to everyone.
“To create a mentally healthy workplace that delivers the best mental health outcomes for staff, organisations should ideally address evidence-based risk and protective factors. These factors include the following considerations: the design of the individual jobs, factors within the team such as support from leaders and organisational characteristics, including how much the health of employees is valued by senior management,” she said.
Ms Gayed said organisations that addressed the various risk factors had been shown to have reduced rates of absenteeism, increased engagement and improved productivity.
Workplaces that want to implement wellness programs need to make informed decisions based on their particular workplace and needed to address individual needs, said Ms Gayed.
“It’s important that a holistic approach to workplace mental health across the organisation is considered, where preventive approaches to maintain good mental health are implemented, in addition to having strategies in place to appropriately respond to mental illness once it emerges,” she said.