Prioritizing mental health is the key to reducing sick leave.

If you had to guess, what would you say is the leading cause of disability worldwide? Obesity? Diabetes? Chronic pain? A physical condition or illness might seem like the obvious answer, but you may be surprised to hear that it’s actually depression.

The World Health Organization estimates that 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression, and left untreated it can be seriously detrimental to a person’s physical health. By 2030, the WHO estimates depression and anxiety disorders will result in a loss of 12 billion workdays and $925 billion in lost economic productivity. With this in mind employers must focus on combating depression and other mental illnesses to improve the overall health of their staff.

Where to begin

Before you spend a dime booking company-wide meditation retreats, you should first work on building a culture that genuinely believes in employee well-being. No one will take you seriously if you propose adding on-site yoga classes or mental health days to the benefits package without an established understanding of the importance of wellness. The following strategies will help you get the ball rolling:

  • Start with small talk. Get a feel for what your team needs by speaking to them directly. What’s stressing them out? Do they feel motivated to come to work each day? How do they feel about their role at the organization and their colleagues? Opening up these conversations will both demonstrate your commitment to your employees’ mental health and plant the seeds for your formalized wellness program.
  • Make little changes. Many environmental factors in the workplace can contribute to mental illness. For instance, uncomfortable workspaces, poor lighting, and strenuous hours are harmful to employee well-being. Issues like this are very easy to mitigate, though. Upgrading to ergonomic furniture, using natural light, and setting up more flexible work schedules are just a few simple ways to make long-lasting improvements. But don’t stop there. Being proactive and going above and beyond to create the most uplifting environment will do wonders for the morale and mental health of your staff.
  • Research your program options. All these grassroots efforts are fantastic, but they can be further advanced by a dedicated employee wellness program, which will provide your staff with access to invaluable tips and resources. When shopping around be sure to consider factors like scalability, breadth of content, and accessibility so your employees can get the most useful and relevant help.

We’ll support you

LifeSpeak offers a comprehensive solution for employers looking to promote workplace wellness. While many of our 1000+ resources focus on helping employees improve their mental and physical health we also cover a wider range of life topics, such as financial well-being, professional development, relationships, and parenting advice. Learn more about how your staff can become happier and healthier by clicking ‘Book a Demo’ below.


Also published on Medium.