If you want to attract the best employees, make sure you provide a mentally healthy workplace

Oct 15, 2014

A new survey by Instinct and Reason shows there is a strong link between providing a mentally healthy workplace and the ability to attract good staff. While salary was the top factor in someone taking a job, the second most important factor was whether the company offered a mentally healthy environment.

Attracting the best staff to your business isn't all about throwing money at them.

A new survey of employees by Instinct and Reason on behalf of beyondblue, found a strong link between providing a mentally healthy workplace and the ability to attract good staff. While salary was, not surprisingly, the number one factor in someone deciding to accept a job, the second most important factor was whether the company offered a mentally healthy environment.

So important is having a mentally healthy environment to work in that it ranked above culture and ability to discuss things openly, reward and recognition and commute.

The Instinct and Reason survey coincided with the launch of Heads Up, an Australian-first campaign by beyondblue and the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance to encourage business leaders to foster and promote a mentally healthy workplace and address conditions such as depression and anxiety. Instinct and Reason surveyed more than 1,000 Australian workers.

This finding shows that pay issues aside, an employer of choice will be one that provides a mentally healthy workplace in which staff feel confident to perform knowing the company takes their and their colleagues’ mental health interests seriously,” the report said.

The survey also revealed that when looking for a new job in the future, 71% of employees said that the issue of a mentally healthy workplace would be an important consideration, with 25% saying it would be “very important” and 10% saying “essential.”

“Workers were more attracted to a new workplace the better it dealt with mental health issues and considered one in which the mental health of its workforce was a business priority and a key element in the business’s decision-making to be optimal,” the report said.

beyondblue Chairman Jeff Kennett AC said the findings show that if Australian businesses want to be employers of choice and attract the best staff, then they must create mentally healthy workplaces.

“This may seem obvious, but unfortunately too many workplaces still lack adequate mental health policies, which are the backbone of a workplace environment which supports the mental health of its staff,” he said. “These latest findings show that employers need to listen to their workers, or they will leave.

“Not only is a mentally healthy workplace mindful of people’s workloads and the stressors they face, but staff with flexible working arrangements and who feel supported by their managers bring huge productivity gains for employers. This is a win-win situation and businesses cannot afford to ignore it. All employers should go to www.headsup.org.au.”

The survey adds further weight to growing evidence that businesses which are not investing in mental health are losing staff, productivity and money.

A 2014 PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report discovered that ignoring mental health in the workplace costs Australian businesses $10.9 billion a year. However, for businesses that do take the issue seriously and implement mental health programs, the rewards are quite startling – for every dollar spent there is an average return on investment (ROI) of $2.30. The returns in some industries are much higher.

And with the likelihood that one in five employees is experiencing a mental health condition in any given year, the evidence points towards the need for business leaders to show true leadership and act.


Create better workplace health: register with Heads Up

To discover how you can implement change in your workplace and work towards attracting the best employees, register for Heads Up, a joint initiative of beyondblue and the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance (MHWA).



Heads Up on LinkedIn 

If you would like more information and resources about how to create a more mentally healthy workplace, please visit our LinkedIn company page, which is regularly updated with stories and links related to the issue.

If you would like to join the discussion about a mentally healthy workplace, please visit our LinkedIn group page and become part of the conversation.

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