About one in five Australians reportedly have a mental health condition, and the number is increasing. Work-related psychological injuries or mental health conditions are a significant concern for businesses.
And it’s not just workers.
Almost half of Australian SME owners say that running their businesses directly impacts their mental health and well-being, according to a recent MYOB Business Report. They cited experiencing stress, anxiety and depression in the past 12 months. In fact, 31% said mental health was their highest concern.
Take a moment to consider how you and your staff are coping with the challenges of life, work, family, and managing others. It’s time for a check-in on how to improve well-being throughout the workplace.
The state of mental health at work
In Australian workplaces, psychological injury accounts for more than double other serious injury claims on average. For instance, an average mental illness claim costs $36,000 – that’s $23,000 more than all serious injury claims.
Each year, mentally unhealthy workplaces cost our nation almost $39 billion due to lost productivity and participation, says the Black Dog Institute.
According to SafeWork Australia, psychosocial hazards and risks include:
- Job demands
- Lack of role clarity
- Inadequate support
- Limited job control
- Traumatic material or events
- Remote or isolated work
- Aggression, violence, bullying, harassment
- Conflict, poor social connection, and relationships at work.
But you can take measures to reduce those risks. It’s about timely interventions on the continuum between well and unwell. Think of it as a scale moving from coping, stress, fatigue, unwellness, and illness, suggests the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program.
The power of social connection
Social connection plays a key role in well-being. For your business, it’s about fostering a sense of belonging and inclusion among your staff and customers and clients.
Well-being is higher in organisations that take action on disability and inclusion, a recent Diversity Council Australia report has found. Their research showed that compared to their inclusive peers, non-inclusive managers were:
- 10x less likely to innovate
- 6x less likely to be highly effective
- 3x less likely to work extra hard
- 3x less likely to offer excellent customer service.
Staff also suffered under non-inclusive managers with more negative impacts on job satisfaction, attrition, mental health, discrimination, and harassment.
The MYOB Business Monitor also reveals how SME owners manage their mental well-being. The list included: exercise, talking with family and friends, mindfulness, sleep, food, meditation, spending time with pets, hobbies, and seeking professional health.
As for your workplace, try these approaches to boost inclusion and well-being overall:
- Welcome discussions about mental health at work to reduce the stigma
- Be flexible around your leave policies and place of work to help support staff experiencing wellness issues
- Don’t exclude staff from invites to work-related social gatherings
- Celebrate differences and ensure you consider and respect a diversity of ideas
- Set the standard for treating everyone – from staff to customers – fairly and address unacceptable behaviour
- Be alert to exclusion in your workplace that may be subtle and take action to overcome it
- Appreciate that each generation talks about and handles mental health issues differently
- Practice positive conflict resolutions between all levels of staff
- Share resources and tips for mental well-being such as box breathing or other breath-based exercises, mindfulness, or positive reframing.
Workers compensation insurance
The tips above help you manage and minimise your risks for worker health and safety, particularly concerning psychological injury.
Be sure to check your workers’ compensation insurance offers appropriate cover for your unique and changing business needs. This compulsory cover aims to protect you and your employees from financial hardship if there’s an accident or illness.
Some insurers offer discounts, incentives, or adjustments to their policies to reward businesses with safe and healthy practices. As your broker, we can guide you on the best approach for your business.