Health and wellness in the workplace plays an integral role in the employee experience. There are a number of things organizations should consider and implement in their workplace wellness programs to further improve employee experience.

A report by the Canadian Mental Health Association has found that, each week, more than 500,000 Canadians are unable to go to work due to mental health concerns.

Deadlines, unmanageable workloads, and working with challenging personalities are just a few of the everyday obstacles employees face. Add financial worries and lack of time to the mix and life can become overwhelming. When these stressors increase and our ability to deal with them decreases, our mental health and wellness can suffer.

Mental health and wellness in the workplace has been a particular concern during the pandemic, with Statistics Canada revealing that at least 1 in 5 Canadians is experiencing anxiety, depression, and/or PTSD as a response to COVID-19. That’s why it’s important to discuss wellness continually to help shine a light on the prevalence of mental health issues in our workplaces.

On the employer side, employees’ mental health issues can take a heavy financial toll on the organization.

A Conference Board of Canada report found depression costs our economy $32.3 billion annually, while anxiety costs another $17.3 billion each year. Globally, there are similar results. The World Health Organization reports lost productivity due to depression and anxiety comes at an annual cost of $1 trillion.

Quick facts on workplace mental health

  • Mental illness is one of the top three drivers for 80% of short and long-term disability claims
  • Nearly a quarter of Canadians living with mental health issues are unable to work
  • Lost productivity due to depression and pain is roughly three times greater than lost productivity due to other reasons

Stress results in poor physical and mental health outcomes for many Canadians.

On the employment front, we face unrelenting workloads, long hours, low pay, and never-ending deadlines—all factors that exacerbate our stress levels.

Quick facts on the negative outcomes of stress

So, if stress is the cause for so many mental health issues, what’s the solution?

The Wellness Council of America notes that reducing workplace stress promotes a strong company culture, reduces sick days, and boosts talent acquisition and retention. Indeed, by supporting employees’ mental wellbeing through workplace wellness programs, benefits are felt across the organization:

  • Improved employee engagement
  • Reduced presenteeism and absenteeism
  • Decreased disability coverage costs
  • Increased productivity and growth
  • Reduced risk of workplace accidents and injuries
  • Higher employee morale

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel—look at what others are doing for health and wellness in the workplace and build your plan accordingly.

Many leading organizations are incorporating mental health initiatives into their benefits programs, with a focus on stress management. Where should your organization start? 

Related Reading: 10 great examples of workplace wellness programs

Consider these points to improve the mental health component of your employee wellness program:

  • Flexible work arrangements: Do we provide options to fit personal needs?
  • Open door, relaxed work environment: Are our managers adept at two-way communication and feedback?
  • Professional growth: How are we doing with opportunities to increase work-related responsibilities and learning?

Download our free ebook to gain a more in-depth understanding of how raising the visibility of mental health and wellness in the workplace can create an environment in which your people can thrive.


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