Workforce of the future report

World Economic Forum: Need for employee mental health support

Measuring the impact of mental health interventions in workplaces is essential for the wellbeing of employees, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Measuring What Matters: Assessing Workplace Mental Health and Well-being, published by the WEF in February 2024, draws on studies carried out by mental health experts on the economic consequences of mental health challenges among employees.

The WEF states that the most realistic goal for employers should be to reduce the prevalence of common mental health conditions that affect wellbeing and productivity and are influenced by work, both quality and quantity.

“Although well-recognised, and validated scales to assess common conditions such as depression and anxiety exist, the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that the evidence of benefit from disease screening followed by targeted intervention for depression and anxiety was inconclusive,” the report states.

The WEF further recommends the use of an integrated measurement approach by employers to their employees’ mental health, citing the following advantages when employers adopt this integrated approach to measurement:

  • a summative, single trackable measure of overall subjective well-being can be a valuable barometer of mood in an organisation;
  • employers have direct influence over work culture and increased incentives to address aspects identified that are bad for business and mental health;
  • bullying, discrimination, harassment, lack of autonomy, excessive workloads, and the inability to achieve a work-life balance are all shown to impact mental health negatively;
  • by identifying entity-wide and local “hotspots”, employers can prioritise interventions based on common themes and/or organisational units; and
  • an organisation can focus on the promotion of good work, the development of skills that promote psychological wellbeing and the facilitation of support pathways for employees who are struggling.

Looking at ESG requirements currently being introduced by governments around the world, the WEF states that increasing scrutiny of ESG practices of organisations, particularly by investors to determine investment and advocacy positions, is driving a need to demonstrate impactful improvements in employee wellbeing.

The report states: “ESG index organisations are integrating measures of employee wellbeing within their benchmarking indices.

“Measuring the impact of mental health interventions at work is essential for the wellbeing of employees, legal compliance, improved productivity, cost savings, and the overall success of an organisation.”

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