productivity workplace wellness

Productivity Becomes Another Casualty of Mental Health: Report

Among the workplace challenges associated with mental wellness: Productivity.

We previously reported that the firm Wildgoose conducted a survey of employees from 250 companies across the UK. Of those who hadn’t taken a day off in the last year due to poor mental health, when asked what they thought they would do if were to suffer from mental health symptoms:

  • “62% of employees surveyed said they had taken a day off work in the last year due to anxiety, depression or stress”
  • “Of that 62%, just under half (44%) admitted to calling in sick with a different issue”
  • “43% said they would say nothing and try and carry on as normal, compared with 4% saying they probably would call in sick with a different issue”
  • “Only 15% said they would share the issue with a manager or someone within HR”
  • “Interestingly of everyone surveyed, only 3% of people who had suffered from a mental health-related issue managed to work through it without having to take a day off”

A new report published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine that we’ve been covering also addresses the issue. It is titled “Mental Health in the Workplace: A Call to Action Proceedings from the Mental Health in the Workplace: Public Health Summit.”

One key part of the study: The Health and Productivity Burden of Mental Illness. The data help raise awareness for individuals and workplace wellness programs, noting that “individuals with untreated mental illnesses who go to work do so with an illness that impairs them physically, mentally, and emotionally. Statistics related to mental health in general, and in the workplace specifically, are compelling.” For example:

  • “Data from a range of studies show that between 30-50% of all adults in the U.S. experience mental illness at some point in their lives.”
  • “Additionally, 20.2 million (8.4% of adults) have a substance use disorder and 7.9 million have both mental illness and substance use disorders.”
  • “The societal impact of poor mental health for the U.S. was estimated to exceed $210 billion in 2010. By 2030, the global societal impact is expected to rise to $6 trillion.”
  • “Currently, among employed adults, anxiety, depression and substance use disorders are the most common mental health problems.”
  • “Unfortunately, about 50-60% of adults with mental illness do not receive the mental health services they need, and those who do receive care often suffer for years, typically a decade or more, before receiving treatment, during which time additional problems may arise, including physical, social and other emotional impairments.”

What does this mean for productivity?

  • “Research shows that there are more workers absent from work because of stress and anxiety than because of physical illness or injury.”
  • “Further, more days of work loss and work impairment are caused by mental illness than other chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and arthritis.”
  • “Employees with depression report their productivity at 70% of their peak performance, and approximately 32 incremental workdays are lost to presenteeism for individuals with major depressive disorders.”

And the challenge can be especially acute for “knowledge workers whose mental acuity and creativity are key job requirements. These workers face multiple personal and business challenges that include long hours and 24/7 availability even across the globe; speed to market pressures underscored by rapid technology advances; and balancing work and family obligations often encumbered by long commutes or feelings of isolation associated with telecommuting.”