October 10th marks the 75th anniversary of World Mental Health Day. This year’s theme is ‘Mental health is a universal human right’, which is a timely reminder that while strides have been made to raise awareness about mental health, and to decrease the stigma surrounding it, a great deal of progress must still be made.
According to the World Health Organization, depression and anxiety cost the global economy an approximate $1-trillion every year as a result of reduced employee productivity. In fact, the OECD estimates that this could be up to 4% of a country’s GDP. And of even more concern, up to 67% of people indicate they don’t get the mental health support they need.
This is a crucial and timely reminder that we must continue to treat mental health at the workplace with the focused attention it deserves. Considering that one in two people experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, the chances are that at any time, our colleagues or ourselves could be facing mental health challenges and need support.
randstad around the world: in support of mental health
Across the globe, Randstad teams continuously take measures to promote the topic of mental well-being with the goal of supporting our colleagues, talent, and clients. Our global health and safety policy commits our organization to providing and maintaining a healthy and safe work environment for all colleagues, at all levels, everywhere.
In India, Randstad employees have access to the Sane Forward employee resource group that focuses on creating a safe space for people to have open conversations about mental health and wellness, and fosters psychological safety among employees at work. One of Sane Forward’s initiatives is a podcast series, ‘’Mind Matters’’. This platform showcases meaningful conversations with experts related to less-spoken-about topics around mental health and wellness, aiming to create a safe and relatable space for listeners.
In Australia, Randstad partners with Mates in Construction (MIC), an industry backed, research-based, mental health and well-being support organization. The organization aims to improve construction workers’ mental health by raising awareness through field officers and volunteers and connecting workers to the best available support. Randstad uses this partnership as an opportunity to educate and train MIC’s internal teams on mental health.
Over in the UK, the Randstad team has recently launched a well-being survey of over 12,000 people on its talent database. The aim is to generate insights for sharing with clients about improving workplace culture - with positive mental health as a prime consideration. The team also hosts a well-being resource hub with advice and real life case studies and launched a “This Is Me” campaign which encourages all employees to feel empowered in sharing their own mental health journey.
3 key areas to action in support of employee mental well-being
Ensuring employee well-being is crucial for colleagues to flourish in their teams and places of work. To further this, employers can take tangible steps to foster an environment that supports employees’ mental health and well-being in their roles. Learning from our insights and research carried out over the years, Randstad recommends three actions organizations can take in reaching this goal.
- Upskilling in support of mental well-being. Researchers have found that when adults continue to learn, their well-being is positively impacted. For example, learning beyond formal education can contribute to the reduction of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Employees may also enjoy a sense of accomplishment when they have learned a new skill. Our latest Workmonitor Pulse survey shows that the second most sought after learning and development area for employees is, in fact, well-being and mindfulness - just behind management and leadership skills.
- Open channels of communication - both ways. It’s important that employees and their managers have clear, open and honest communication from both sides. When this is rooted in empathy, people are more likely to feel secure about their working lives, the future, and avoid stress. One study found that open communication improves employee happiness, leading to an up to 20% increase in productivity.
- Make the most of health and wellness benefits. It isn’t enough to simply have a set of employee assistance program (EAP) initiatives that are not promoted and effectively used by colleagues. EAPs should be fully utilized so that staff can better cope with mental and financial concerns, which are especially heightened during periods of economic uncertainty. This creates space for employees to be more engaged and focused on their tasks in an enjoyable way, which also boosts productivity by up to 17%.
It should be increasingly clear that improving mental well-being is not just a nice-to-have, but a business imperative. If we are to truly harness the potential of workforces, see organizations bolster productivity for good, and support careers that are motivating and healthy in all aspects, then we must take meaningful steps to take care of the mental well-being of our colleagues.
Talking about this is an excellent starting point in raising awareness and creating safe spaces for such dialogues, but this must also be met by tangible actions that demonstrate - over time - that we all care and are invested in improving our colleagues’ mental well-being.
For more on Randstad’s initiatives, please take a look at our 2023 Local Sustainability Initiatives Report.