Companies must prioritize the mental well-being of their employees to avoid the substantial costs associated with mental health conditions. Professor Renata Schoeman emphasizes that productivity targets should not come at the expense of investment in mental health. While some companies are taking steps in the right direction, many still fail to prioritize employee well-being. Leaders should set an example, create a healthy culture, provide support services, and ensure a work-life balance to support mental well-being in the workplace.
Poor Mental Health Affects Our Economy
According to the Mental State of the World report, South Africa has the lowest average mental well-being score among 34 countries. The economy loses about R161 billion annually due to mental health conditions. This includes lost work days, presenteeism, and premature mortality. Companies must invest more in the mental well-being of their employees to mitigate these costs. Many companies still prioritize productivity over mental health, but research shows that mentally well employees are more productive and happier at work. Companies that prioritize mental health have leaders who exemplify self-care, create a healthy culture, and provide support services. They also invest in education and resilience training and ensure a smooth reintegration process for employees returning from a mental health-related absence.
Companies Must Begin to Invest in the Mental Health of their Staff
South Africa’s low average mental well-being score highlights the urgent need for companies to invest in the mental health of their employees. While some companies are taking steps to prioritize mental well-being, many still fail to do so. Prioritizing mental health benefits both employees and the company, leading to higher productivity, creativity, and retention rates. To support mental health, companies should have leaders who prioritize their own mental well-being, create a healthy culture, provide support services, and establish a work-life balance. The hybrid working model presents unique challenges, and companies should ensure that methods for supporting mental health extend to all employees, whether they work from home or in the office.
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