Employers actively investing in ‘mentally-fit’ staff: Study

Robert Half research has found Australian companies are actively investing in mental health initiatives in the workplace. Read more here.

  • 96% of Australian employers agree there are benefits to a mentally-fit workplace, and 92% are offering mental health initiatives to their staff. 
  • 80% think company-sponsored mental health initiatives are more important today compared to three years ago. 

In the lead up to World Mental Health day on October 10, specialised recruiter Robert Half has conducted independently commissioned research that has found Australian companies are not only increasingly aware of the mental health of their employees, but are actively investing in workplace initiatives to have a ‘mentally-fit’ workforce as companies understand the positive impact it has on not just employee wellbeing, but also the organisation’s bottom line.

The benefits of a mentally-fit workplace 
According to the survey of 460 hiring managers, nearly every Australian company (96%) agrees there are benefits to a mentally-fit workplace. When asked what were the biggest benefits of reducing workplace stress, more than half (58%) cited improved employee wellbeing, while 55% say improved staff morale. 

There are measurable results for the business as well, including: increased productivity (53%), improved employee motivation/engagement (45%), decreased absenteeism (34%), decreased costs from sick pay, insurance costs, and work-related health costs etc. (33%). In terms of reputational impacts, one in four (26%) say having a mentally-fit workplace enhances the company brand as an employer of choice.

Nicole Gorton, Director of Robert Half Australia said: “Companies that are proactive and dynamic in their approach to mental health initiatives will undoubtedly see tangible results over time as employee wellbeing is crucial to business success. With a mentally-fit workforce, these organisations don’t only have more productive and engaged teams, but with these initiatives becoming more popular, these initiatives are also helpful for companies to attract the best talent and keep their staff on board.”

Mental health initiatives: What’s on offer?
The research shows the majority (92%) of Australian companies are offering mental health initiatives to their staff. Some of the most popular initiatives being offered by companies are: flexible working arrangements (55%), employee assistance programs (53%), counselling services (46%), access to onsite mental health professionals (32%), and hiring contract/temporary workers to alleviate high workloads (18%). 

Furthermore, more emphasis is being placed on the significance of mental health, as eight in 10 (80%) Australian employers think company-sponsored mental health initiatives in the workplace are more important today compared to three years ago, with over one-quarter (28%) agreeing mental health initiatives are “much more important”. 

Mental health initiatives: What’s to come? 
While the importance of mental health initiatives in the workplace is increasingly recognised among Australian companies, this is a “work in progress”. While most have already introduced initiatives for staff, 93% of Australian companies think the following mental health initiatives should be introduced: mental health training for staff (37%), hiring contract/temporary workers to alleviate high workloads (35%), access to onsite mental health professionals (29%), counselling services (24%), flexible working arrangements (19%), and employee assistance programs (14%).

“Failing to offer mental health initiatives in the workplace is likely to have a negative impact, not just on employees who suffer greater risk to be overworked and stressed, but also for companies experiencing longer-term harm from increased sick leave, low morale, and decreased productivity. Investing in mental health initiatives has never been more important to protecting the business’ bottom line and maintaining a reputation as a great place to work,” concluded Nicole Gorton.

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About the research
The annual study is developed by Robert Half and was conducted in December 2017 by an independent research firm, surveying 460 general hiring managers in Australia. This survey is part of the international workplace survey, a questionnaire about job trends, talent management and trends in the workplace.

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Gabrielle Nagy 
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