- Distressed workers spend one-third of their time being unproductive and are out sick an average of one full day a month, according to a new report released in partnership with the International Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA). Workplace Well-being: A Summary of the 2018 Workplace Outcome Suite Annual Report is a compilation of data from employee assistance providers and more than 23,000 employee use cases, said the EAPA.
- Research in the report showed that employees with mental health problems aren't able to concentrate at work and are twice as likely to be distracted on the job as typically healthy workers. The common causes of cases of productivity loss were related to mental health, such as anxiety, depression or personal stress (40%), marriage or family relationship problems (29%), work and occupational issues (18%) and drug or alcohol problems (4%).
- According to the report, EAP counseling restored five days of productive work when cases of distress were evaluated over a three-month period, resulting in a productivity savings of $1,731 per case and a return on investment of $3.37:1. Eighty percent of EAP interventions were self-referrals, said the EAPA.
A 2018 netQuote study found that mental health problems were on the rise, with 41% of 1,012 respondents being diagnosed with a mental health disorder and 52% believing that their disorder interfered with their work. Other studies point to a growing number of workers struggling with unsustainably high levels of stress; work-related stress alone affected 94% of U.S. and U.K. workers in another study.
The toll that untreated mental health disorders takes on workers' well-being and the resulting losses in productivity require effective interventions — and increasingly, employers are turning to old solutions to solve it. While EAPs have long existed and struggled under stigma as only being helpful for cases of drug addiction, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as numerous studies have said that a well-advertised EAP can help catch issues before they fester. New technology, including telemedicine, has made EAPs more accessible.
However, a recent Absence and Disability Readiness Index. study found that employers are struggling to support workers' mental health and drug addiction issues. While diagnoses and interventions should be left to professionals, employers can train managers to look out for negative changes in behavior or performance, which can signal that a worker is in trouble. That training may be key; while workers are confident that managers can spot mental health issues, HR is not. A well-trained manager corps can help an organization establish a culture of mental wellness through their ability to refer employees to treatment programs, adjust workloads as possible sources of stress, and encourage workers to "unplug" from the workplace during nonwork hours.