Measure to create a mentally healthy workplace
Whether your workplace is big or small, including measurement in your continual improvement cycle can highlight areas for action, what is working and where your organisation may need to do more work to create a mentally healthy workplace.
Part of the Measure what matters module.
Why measurement is so important
Creating a mentally healthy workplace goes beyond raising awareness of, and responding to, people affected by mental ill-health. It also includes proactively reducing work-related sources of harm (psychosocial hazards) and identifying ways to promote the positive aspects of work.
To do this, your organisation needs to understand the mix of things that may affect the mental health of your workers. This relies on high quality data about internal factors (risks, resources, and activities you can control) and external factors (risks, resources, and activities you cannot control).
Your organisation benefits in many ways from measuring things related to mentally healthy workplaces, including:
- You can continually improve your systems and practices to meet your business goals.
- You can make more informed and effective decisions.
- You can identify problem areas early and build a case for change.
- You remain accountable within the organisation and to stakeholders.
- You can meet your legal work health and safety obligations.
- You help improve the mental health of your workers.
Using data to make the case for change
Use the data you collect to prioritise your efforts. Making a case for change involves assessing the benefits and costs associated with that change. In some instances, the change may be justified because it creates a net benefit (i.e. the benefits outweigh the costs). Other times the case for change may be based on other things such as social benefit.
A financial case for change
This case for change shows how action is justified because it creates cost savings or efficiencies within your organisation. The costs and benefits that may be considered in this case for change can include:
- absenteeism or presenteeism
- impact on productivity
- compensation and legal costs
- program or intervention costs.
An economic case for change
This case for change shows how action is justified because it creates cost savings or efficiencies beyond your organisation (i.e. it benefits society more broadly). The costs and benefits that may be considered in this case for change can include:
- lost wages (for the worker)
- healthcare costs
- social welfare payments
- lost economic output
- national productivity gains.
Non-financial case for change
Alternatively, the change may be justified on non-financial grounds. This can happen when costs or benefits are hidden, or when it is difficult to estimate their dollar value. In these cases, a change may be justified for:
- broader strategic reasons, including goals that relate to your supply chain or corporate social responsibility
- legal reasons (e.g. when you must change practices to comply with laws, noting that duties imposed by work health and safety laws apply equally to psychosocial risks).
The costs and benefits that may be considered in this case for change can include:
- impact on team cohesion, collegiality, and productivity
- claims or leave management
- conflict management and resolution
- diversion of managerial attention
- recruitment costs and retention
- impact on supply chain relationships
- reputational impact (e.g. positive or negative media attention) on revenues, cost of capital or investor confidence.
Do not forget you can also include non-financial (or qualitative) data, such as job satisfaction and climate survey results, success in recruiting and retaining good employees, and participation in mental health and wellbeing promotion activities.