Implement a Workplace Mental Health Strategy and Boost Your Bottom Line

Addressing and improving workplace mental health can have significant benefits for not only your law firm’s staff and their productivity, but your bottom line as well.

It is now widely recognised that mental health conditions can substantially influence an organisation’s productivity. A study released by PwC earlier this year, in conjunction with beyondblue and the National Mental Health Commission, revealed businesses can achieve real, targeted productivity benefits following the implementation of effective mental health strategies.

The benefits of positive mental health in the workplace result in improved productivity, reduced absenteeism and fewer compensation claims. Significantly, the study states that Australian businesses will receive an average return of $2.30 for every $1 they invest in effective workplace mental health strategies.

Industries at risk

Currently, one in five Australian workers are experiencing mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. At the same time, not enough workplaces recognise the importance of their employees’ mental health.

The PwC report reveals that mental health conditions are seen across all industries in Australia, but prevalence rates vary. The financial and insurance sectors are most at risk, with a third of people experiencing a mental health condition.

Recent Roy Morgan data reveals that 35 per cent of professionals in the legal sector report above-average levels of stress. As the most common mental health issue in Australia, stress can dramatically impact your firm’s workplace mental health and productivity.

Implementing targeted action plans

With global competition at its fiercest, business leaders who want to effectively manage productivity need to drive and maintain actions that will create a mentally healthy workplace, and consider the critical success factors for organisational change.

Currently, many workplace-specific actions designed to promote mental health have been developed nationally and internationally via organisations such as beyondblue and the National Mental Health Commission.

These include worksite physical-activity programs, coaching and mentoring programs, mental health first aid and education, resilience training and CBT-based return-to-work programs. Wellbeing checks and inspiring employee involvement are also encouraged.

Support is critical

Employers have a fundamental responsibility to their workers – and also to their firm’s profitability – to tackle mental health conditions at work. A critical component of implementing effective mental health strategies is having leadership and management support for improving the overall culture and mental health of the workplace.

It is easier for smaller organisations to see results more quickly, as the single most critical success factor is employee participation. For larger organisations that want to see positive improvements, actions are best implemented on a team or group basis.

Ultimately, the onus is on organisations to understand the importance of mental health conditions, and to create a tailored action plan that meets the specific needs of their workplace.

Azadeh Williams is an international journalist and editor with over 500 articles published in over five continents including Reuters and The Times (UK). A former banking and finance solicitor, she holds an LLB, BA (Hons) from the University of Sydney and an MA from the City University London School of Journalism. Azadeh currently lectures in business and professional news practice at the Macleay College faculty of journalism.

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