Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace: How to Increase Productivity and Happiness

Conventional, and arguably dated, wisdom suggests that if we pay employees enough, they’ll be productive. But recent studies now suggest otherwise: Researchers have discovered a link between employees’ happiness and their productivity at work.

And for those companies that have taken this seriously and acted accordingly, they’ve already begun to experience the payoff.

A recent study by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12% increase in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10% less productive. As the research team put it, “We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings.”

So, by virtue of the transitive property, a happy employee is a more engaged, productive employee, which leads to a healthier bottom line for the company. Then, by that logic, it would seem that organizations should place a much larger premium on employee happiness and mental health.

How Does Work Impact Mental Health?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, as many as one in five adults will be diagnosed with some form of mental health issue in his or her lifetime, and an estimated 20% of American adults currently suffer from mental illness.

Furthermore, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, as many as 14.8 million adults are affected by major depressive disorder—and startlingly, that number doesn’t even include the millions of Americans who suffer from bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, general anxiety disorder, or any of the dozens of other mental health illnesses.

Unfortunately, work often exacerbates preexisting or underlying symptoms that accompany common psychological conditions, including depression and anxiety. Workplace environments can trigger the development of mental illness in previously healthy individuals. These stressors are then further compounded by the societal stigma surrounding mental illness, further worsening the situation.

But how, exactly, does training enter the equation?

The Benefits of eLearning for Mental Health

All too often, businesses don’t make training a priority with regard to mental health and happiness. Why? They think training is expensive, time-consuming, and exhausts resources.

But turnover proves far more costly.

Some studies predict that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs 6 to 9 months’ salary on average. So, for a manager making $40,000 a year, that’s $20,000–$30,000 in recruiting and training expenses.

But others predict the cost is even more, costing as much as twice his or her annual salary, especially for a high earner or executive-level employee.

So, companies stand to reap the rewards of providing training for their employees, as well-trained workers help increase productivity and profits and boost employee morale.

How eLearning can Promote Mental Health

Here are just a few ways training can benefit employee mental health and the bottom line.

  1. Save Time and Money. Training can improve a company’s bottom line, as poor performance is often a result of employees who don’t know what they’re supposed to do, how to do their jobs, or why they need to work a certain way. But training would reduce duplication of effort and time spent correcting mistakes. It can improve performance, reduce costly staff turnover, lower maintenance costs by reducing equipment breakdowns, and reduce the need for supervision.
  2. Employee Satisfaction. When employees have a better understanding of their role and company, employee satisfaction increases. Supporting career development shows employees that their employer is invested in their future, building morale and trust. When employees are training because the organization cares to invest in their growth as individuals, employees will work harder because they care about the team and the growth of the company; they’re invested in return.
  3. Employee Engagement. Training benefits employee engagement, too. In fact, highly engaged employees are 38%more likely to have above-average productivity. They think carefully about how they’re doing their work, leading to continually improved processes and increased efficiency. So, companies are more likely to retain employees who view their training as relevant and applicable to their jobs, which, in turn, fosters a positive commitment to the company, creating a partnership.
  4. Increased Retention. As discussed earlier, having well-trained employees benefits companies because the cost of employee turnover can be high, including separation costs, such as exit interviews, administrative functions related to termination, severance pay, and unemployment compensation. And replacement costs, such as attracting applicants, entrance interviews, testing, travel and moving expenses, preemployment administrative expenses, medical exams, and supplying employment information, prove costly, too.

A Trained Employee Is a Happy Employee

Granted, the thought of “training” may not necessarily elicit excitement and elation from employees, but the long-term impact of an organization pouring into each employee is profound. Employees into whom a company has invested will represent the company to the best of their ability and ensure that anyone who comes in contact with it has a stellar experience. Furthermore, they will speak positively and knowledgeably about their respective industry and provide a great customer experience.

But most importantly, setting a strong internal training brand not only shows a company’s dedication to teaching its employees how to master their roles but also shows that the company cares about their overall happiness at work—and employees who feel cared for by their employers are engaged employees.

There is no company too big or too small to reap the benefits of effective training, and it should start on day 1 with a new hire and continue in perpetuity. Creating a culture that supports training and development of employees takes a lot of hard work, but the payoff in productive, engaged, healthy, and happy employees is well worth the investment.

As a member of the Vector Solutions executive team, Victoria Zambito is responsible for, and has been successful in, growing the highly profitable online education business since she joined the company 17 years ago. As Senior Vice President of Content and Communications, she is responsible for aligning and rationalizing Vector’s extensive library of over 7,600 courses across its multiple brands, enhancing, standardizing and modernizing content, and driving creative, agile solutions to deliver products. She also focuses on centralizing strategic communications and public relations as the company seeks to develop its brand globally.

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