Destigmatising mental health challenges by implementing wellness initiatives at work

Benjamin Kluwgant · 14 Oct

Prioritising employee health and wellbeing isn’t only a workplace perk, but an integral component of high-functioning teams. Leaders who focus on implementing initiatives that keep the mental health of their employees up to scratch, are forging a pathway to sustainable success.

Workplaces are notoriously stressful environments. Many people’s livelihood depends on their performance levels at work, complex social relationships are always brewing in the office, and competition is always the source of plenty of anxiety. Unfortunately, due to the stressful nature of business, it is extremely common for people to develop mental health conditions at work.

People spend most of their lives working. Even if you don’t include the millennial hustle culture where people work around the clock – the standard eight hours a day, five days a week, 47 (or so) weeks a year, represents a massive portion of people’s time.

This being the case, the mental health habits that people develop at work can have a tremendous influence on the way they lead the rest of their lives.

It wasn’t all that long ago that the topic of mental health was considered taboo and the stigma around confessing to having mental health struggles caused people to suffer in silence.

Today, thankfully, it’s an entirely different story. Our world is gradually transforming into a place where people are far more open about their mental health challenges, and many workplaces around the world offer their employees a range of wellness activities that help relieve (and sometimes even eliminate) feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.

Statistics show that one in every five Australians is currently suffering from issues relating to mental health. If you’re the one who looks after the people and culture elements of a workplace (meaning, if you’re the HR manager), all eyes are on you to arrange and implement initiatives that address the mental health challenges that employees might be experiencing.

Three overarching benefits of mental health initiatives

Offering initiatives that focus on mental health can bring a wide range of benefits to the organisation that implements them – but in a general sense, there are three predominant and quantifiable positives that these initiatives can bring.

1.     Decreasing absenteeism

Stress, anxiety and insecurity at work cause employees to associate the workplace with negativity. When this negativity isn’t dealt with properly, it can bring on behaviours like absenteeism.

Absenteeism is the habitual practice of avoiding work without good reason for doing so. When employees develop feelings of anxiety about their performance levels at work, they often form patterns where they miss work just so that don’t have to confront those anxieties.

When HR managers implement initiatives that promote wellness in the workplace, employees are better equipped to deal with those anxieties, and in turn, have an easier time beating absenteeism

2.     Reducing presenteeism

Presenteeism stems from the same place as absenteeism but manifests itself differently in human behaviour.

If an employee develops feelings of insecurity about their job, they often find themselves staying in the office outside of work hours, or even working while they’re sick, purely due to the fear of losing their job.

This overstated presence at work can cause a productivity nose-dive and often leads to severe burnout and depression.

However, when employers and HR managers provide their staff with opportunities to improve their mental health and overall wellness, those initiatives lead to stronger levels of self-confidence and less of a reason to turn to presenteeism.

3.     Increasing the average tenure of employees 

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the year 2018 saw 1.24 million Australians leave their jobs voluntarily. The ABS’s report shared that the number one and most common reason people gave for leaving their jobs was because they “wanted to obtain better job conditions” or “wanted a change”.

Implementing initiatives that focus on decreasing employee stress and anxiety is a great way to provide employees with the ‘better job conditions’ or ‘change’ that is likely to keep them at their jobs for longer.

Examples of initiatives that help decrease employee turnover are offering (or encouraging them to attend) meditation or yoga sessions. These programs give employees a reason to step away from their desks, work on their physical and mental health, and return to the office within the hour feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and happy to be back in the zone.

Perkbox does a lot of the work for you

While it will always be up to leaders of the business to push these types of initiatives forward, the Perkbox platform brings these opportunities right to fingertips of employees.

As part of our platform, we supply perks that promote health and fitness such as discounted (or free!) memberships and subscriptions to services that they otherwise may not have even known about. Physical fitness is covered by the gym, but we also provide financial and mental health focused perks, too. 

Our Recognition platform directly addresses many of the challenges employees face around feelings of neglect and lack of appreciation – two of the most common causes of employee turnover. By giving your team members a dedicated place to celebrate each other and their day to day wins, you ease the pressure from management to always see every detail that happens.

The Insights element of our offering helps employers and HR managers learn about the trends, needs and desires of their employees – allowing for the once taboo topic of mental health struggles to stand on equal footing with your employee's other pieces of feedback about the business.

HR managers have a lot on their plates and looking for new and innovative ways to address mental health at the office is something that can easily fall to the wayside. But, by integrating these three offerings into your business, you’re effectively handing those reigns over to us, and allowing yourself to focus on the implementation of these important initiatives.

Actively take out the stigma

As the HR manager, it’s up to you to take the stigma out of being open about mental health challenges in the office.

If you hear people poking fun at the idea of mental health, you need to call it out.

If you notice someone having a hard time, you need to ask them if they’re okay.

If there aren’t enough employee wellness initiatives in place – it’s time to get cracking.