- Koa Health
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Employees dealing with high levels of stress have been shown to suffer from lower engagement and reduced creativity and productivity —which is likely to further contribute to their stress. Keep reading for further details of how (and why) poor mental wellbeing affects your employees and your organisation as a whole and some ways you can help your team build resilience and handle stress.
Mental health impacts engagement and creativity
Employees who are switched on and enthusiastic about their work (aka, engaged) are a boon for business. Unfortunately, although engaged teams are up to 21% more profitable, according to Gallup, only 15% of employees are engaged worldwide.
Poor mental wellbeing and stress are considered significant factors in employee engagement levels (the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development). This close relationship between disengagement and poor mental wellbeing makes sense. Who can be invested in and excited about work while feeling ‘overwhelmed’ or ‘spread too thin’? To add insult to injury, disengagement isn’t the only problem caused by poor mental health: creativity takes a hit, too.
Stress is especially bad news for creative thinking and innovation. When stress becomes long-term, it can put your body into continuous fight-or-flight mode, and it’s particularly harmful to the hippocampus. This part of the brain is responsible for long-term memory. It’s also been linked to imagination and insights in problem-solving, which explains (at least in part) why poor mental wellbeing is so harmful to creative thinking.
But creativity and engagement seem like minor problems when employees simply don’t show up (physically or mentally) for work.
High-stress levels linked to absenteeism and presenteeism
Maybe people don’t openly call in ‘stressed’. But that doesn’t mean that sick days aren’t often due to mental health issues. In fact, 45% of all days missed due to ‘ill health’ were related to work stress in 2015-2016.
In 2019, in the UK alone, 12.8 million working days were estimated to have been lost due to stress, anxiety and depression, at a cost to companies of twice the original rate of employees’ pay in lost productivity, and related expenses.
The other side of this coin are employees who work no matter what, even when they’re feeling physically or mentally unwell, and get less done. When taken to extremes, this behaviour, known as presenteeism, costs companies approximately £15.1 billion yearly—twice as much as the cost of actual absences.
Helping your team handle stress
There’s no debating it. Stress is a serious problem at companies everywhere, especially at present. Linked to lower levels of engagement and productivity as well as significant increases in absenteeism and presenteeism, poor mental wellbeing can’t be ignored.
Taking care of stress (and your employees) is about more than the bottom line. Organisations like yours care about the people they employ. They’re doing their best to take care of their teams with employee health programmes and encouraging staff to prioritise physical wellbeing. But perhaps now more than ever before, mental wellbeing needs attention too.
Fortunately for companies, many employees are ready and willing to accept help—50% of those surveyed in Mercer’s Global Talent Trends Report (2018) want to see a greater focus on wellness from their employers.
So what can you do to support your team members’ mental wellbeing and help them stay engaged, creative, productive, and, most importantly, present without adding to their stress?
Give them access to practical, easy-to-access tools and time to use them. Prioritising mental wellbeing isn’t just good for your team; it’s a good investment—every $1 spent on mental health coverage and support returns $4, (NAHPC).
Is stress an issue on your team? What are you doing to support balanced mental wellbeing for your team? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
about the author
The Team @ Koa Health
Our diverse team of developers, researchers, psychologists and behavioral health experts work together to create practical, thought-provoking content to accompany our range of digital therapeutics.