According to the Ontario Chamber's (OCC’s) 2021 Business Confidence Survey, 89% of employers believed spending on employee health and wellbeing was a good investment. Yet, only 53% said they had a formal strategy in place, a situation the OCC refers to as the mental health action gap.
We know that mental health can be a challenging topic for businesses but employers play a critical role in the employee health equation. We also know that inaction comes with a real cost. This is why, with support from Sun Life, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and Ontario Chamber Network released this resource to help close the gap.
Mental Wellness in the Workplace: A Playbook for Employers and A Playbook for SMEs provides employers of varying sizes with strategies and supports to help bridge the gap by fostering a health focused culture, effectively communicating with employees and encouraging staff to access free government resources. Many employers are looking for practical steps they can take and resources they can easily leverage to develop psychologically healthy and safe workplaces.
We’re pleased to release these tools during Mental Health Awareness Month to support employees’ mental health. The Playbooks encourage businesses to focus on five key areas:
1.Develop a mental health strategy. This strategy should be linked to an organization’s
diversity, equity, and inclusion plans and include performance measures to monitor progress.
2.Build a psychologically healthy and safe workplace culture. Training and employee engagement can create a positive workplace culture.
3.Communicate widely and regularly. Continuous, two way communication between leaders
and employees is key to destigmatizing mental health and encouraging employees to access
4.Ensure adequate resources for employees and their families. Supports should be varied,
visible, and accessible both in person and virtually.
5.Prepare for hybrid work, if applicable. Consider what steps need to be taken in the long run for a hybrid work environment. Hybrid or flexible work environments can benefit employee mental wellness, but it is important to equip leaders and employees with the resources needed to thrive in this new way of working.
The bottom line. Prior to COVID-19, poor mental health in the workplace accounted for:
- $50 billion in direct costs per year, including health care, social services, and income support like short and long term disability claims;
- $6.3 billion in indirect costs from lost productivity;
- 500,000 Canadians missing work each week due to mental health issues or illnesses.