Mental Health, Presenteeism, Workplace Wellness Programs

Study Reveals Connections Among Mental Health, Presenteeism, Workplace Wellness Programs

We have written often about the importance of addressing mental health concerns as part of a well-run workplace wellness program (for example here, here, and here).

Now a new study by researchers who partnered with a “large international financial services company” shows that “the top health problem impacting our workplace partner was mental health.”

The study was designed to look at the issue of presenteeism and determine ways to address this improtant workplace issue. The study is titled “Healthy and productive workers: using intervention mapping to design a workplace health promotion and wellness program to improve presenteeism,” and it’s published in BMC Public Health.

As the study states: “Presenteeism is a growing problem in developed countries mostly due to an aging workforce. The economic costs related to presenteeism exceed those of absenteeism and employer health costs. Employers are implementing workplace health promotion and wellness programs to improve health among workers and reduce presenteeism.” The study sought to “use an intervention mapping approach to develop a workplace health promotion and wellness program aimed at reducing presenteeism.”

The results were clear:

  • “Depression and stress were the first and second highest cause of productivity loss respectively. A multi-pronged program with detailed action steps was developed and directed at key stakeholders and health conditions.”
  • “For mental health, regular sharing focus groups, social networking, monthly personal stories from leadership using webinars and multi-media communications, expert-led workshops, lunch and learn sessions and manager and employee training were part of a comprehensive program.”
  • “Comprehensive, specific and multi-pronged strategies were developed and aimed at encouraging healthy behaviours that impact presenteeism such as regular exercise, proper nutrition, adequate sleep, smoking cessation, socialization and work-life balance.”

Other key points addressed in the report:

  • “Mandatory training for supervisors and senior managers was recommended not just for mental health, but also for all-important health conditions identified in the needs assessment. High priority recommendations focused on strategies to shift the workplace culture towards one that places employee health and health promotion at par with company profits. This will require data on how this shift can positively impact the bottom line.”
  • “The impact of mental health conditions and especially depression in the workplace was highlighted as a main challenge and the highest priority for our workplace partner. Depression is one of the most debilitating diseases that can have significant effects on employees, co-workers, family members, and society.”
  • “Having an integrative approach with initiatives inside and outside the workplace may provide even greater gains.”