Liberating the organization from mental health challenges in the age of disruption

today2022.08.16. 4966 19 5


Farai Mugabe, Content & Research, The HR Congress


Organizations are seeking to return to pre-pandemic profitability while an overwhelming majority of employees are facing mental health challenges after the pandemic and due to the current happenings in the world. In order to achieve the level of growth they require, businesses should invest in the mental health of their people.

Mental health challenges are holding up business growth and performance of organizations, costing the global economy at least US$1 trillion each. The World Health Organization indicates that an estimated 264 million people suffer from depression, which is one leading cause of disability.1 Employees have gone through COVID-19-induced pressures due to what is happening in the world. As a result, stress, depression, substance abuse, burnout, addictive disorders, and anxiety are becoming huge health problems at work. 81% of employees are suffering from burnout as per Mercer’s report.2 53% of employees are more likely to prioritize health and wellbeing over work, more than before the pandemic, as per Microsoft research. To win in the marketplace, HR leaders should help to liberate organizations from mental health challenges.3

Why mental health is holding back business growth

  1. Lost productivity

Mental health issues, such as stress, depression, and burnout, take away employees’ concentration. Employees get tired, and, as a result, they will not perform at their best. As indicated before, the amount of lost productivity in dollar value is estimated to be at least US$1 trillion.1 Mental health challenges such as depression negatively affect the ability of employees to concentrate and think clearly. Employees suffering from mental health challenges such as stress and burnout often show signs of fatigue. They do not work at the right speed and often fail to meet targets. This captures company growth and steals away potential productivity gains for organizations. On the other hand, employees working in the right state of mind are more likely to be productive and innovative. They function at the right level of performance because they have minimum mental health challenges. 

  1. Staff turnover 

Research by McKinsey and Company reveals that employees are quitting because they are exhausted.5 Poor mental health is a key contributor to the high employee turnover that companies are facing. Employees are tired and suffering from burnout. They want more time with family and to pursue their passions outside of work. 73% of working parents with symptoms report that the demands of their work interfere with their private and family life.  Employees leave when they feel they are not loved.6 Failure to provide good mental health solutions at the workplace is one of the reasons why 41% of the entire global workforce is considering quitting their jobs. 90% of working parents experiencing burnout say that senior management at their workplaces considers productivity more than mental health. 7 

  1. Customer churn

Customers leave because of poor customer service. Employees who experience mental health challenges are likely to be distracted at work and therefore do not offer the right concentration to customers. Some employees experiencing mental health challenges such as burnout are more likely to show signs of fatigue. They are often slow in their work. This will result in a decline in customer service, and ultimately customers will leave. Therefore, company growth and performance are stifled because of poor customer service caused by mental health challenges. 

A study by PWC reveals that customers are willing to pay up to 16% price premiums on products and services because of a great customer experience. Bad customer experience drives customers away. 32% of customers say they will walk away from a brand they love because of just one bad experience.8 Professor Dave Ulrich indicates that good mental health drives a positive employee experience, which will result in delivering excellent customer results.9 Therefore to drive positive customer experience, companies should focus on mental health programs. 

  1. Employer brand

We are living in times of the great reset where positive employer brand matters.10 Great employer brands attract top talent. According to Harvard Business Review, a bad reputation costs companies at least 10% more per hire. The Harvard Business Review also indicates that research showed a company with 10 000 could be spending as much as $7.6 million in additional wages to make up for a poor reputation. Companies that do not consider mental health critical to their business agenda are more likely not to be attractive to top talent. Companies that invest in mental health initiatives are regarded as great places to work for by employees. HR and business leaders should therefore invest more into the mental health agenda to attract the right talent, which is critical to delivering the growth that organizations need. 

  1. Financial performance 

Ultimately, everything done in business leads to financial performance.9 Mental health affects the financial performance of a business through an increase in health care costs, lost sales due to poor customer service, and lost potential. The amount of lost productivity in dollar value is estimated to be at least US$1 trillion. Companies that invest in mental health initiatives have productive employees who thrive.9

Dealing with mental health challenges 

Organizations need to be liberated from mental health challenges currently affecting success. Once organizations can effectively handle mental health challenges, they position the organization for success.10 Investing in mental welling positively influences employee experience, which will generate positive stakeholder outcomes. 

  1. Make mental health a strategy for success

Josh Bersin suggests that companies should make mental health a strategy to grow, innovate and adapt in this age of disruption. The best thing an organization can give to its employees is an organization that wins in the marketplace.11 To achieve this, organizations should move mental health from being a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have.’ This will give mental health the necessary attention and investment required for organizational growth and success.12

  1. Develop impactful mental health and wellness programs

Several HR initiatives on mental health are like the sweetness of chewing gum. They are good initiatives whose impact does not last.13 According to an MIT Sloan Management Review article, we should “stop telling employees to be resilient.”14 Developing strong teams that can compete and win in a market of disruption requires sustainable mental health initiatives. Such programs can include focusing on hybrid working and work flexibility. 

  1. Work politics

Toxic work politics causes stress, resentment, migraines, anxiety, and depression. It stifles growth and innovation, driving away talent in the process. A report by Work Human entitled “The Future of Work Is Human” indicates that three out of five employees who have been in their company for eight years or less would leave for a more positive culture.15, 16 Organizations should be able to deal with mental health issues by creating a positive work culture that builds work collaboration and productivity. 

  1. Fair and equitable rewards

The cost of living has been rising worldwide, creating stress, anxiety, and depression in employees.17 To get the best out of employees, organizations should reward them. Deloitte has indicated that 76% of employees are willing to go the extra mile if they have a financial benefit in their efforts. For companies to effectively get the best out of their employees, they should reward them fairly and equitably.17

  1. Recognition at work

According to an article by Work Human, recognition plays a critical role in getting the right set of behaviour from employees. There are several ways employers can recognize their employees rather than pay. This includes saying “well done” or “thank you” when employees do well. Good, compassionate leaders can recognize their employees to effectively deliver in this age of competition and disruption.18

  1. Leadership

At the heart of success is human-centred leadership. The goal of leadership is to ensure that they lead their people and organizations towards success. Leadership that cares can drive positive work behaviour. The psychological contract has changed. COVID-19 made employees rethink what work means to them. Employees are now more concerned with flexibility, caring leadership, and healthy work relations. Today, human-centered leadership is critical for any company’s success. To get the best out of employees, there is a need for emotional support, training, and motivation for employees during good and bad times. This enables employees to realize their truest potential.19

  1. Right culture

For any business to be successful, every team player in the business should be in the right, commonly-held frame of mind. Business practice has shown that the most successful global businesses invest their time and efforts towards generating the right set of value systems and behaviour amongst their employees. Organizational culture is the set of shared beliefs, truths, assumptions, and values that operate in organizations. To win in the marketplace, companies must deal with toxic work cultures. They should integrate positivity into how people think and act in the organization.

The future of work is Human. An overwhelming majority of staff across the world is unhappy and demotivated. Organizations are seeking to return to pre-pandemic profitability, but their growth is disrupted by mental health challenges. For organizations to realize the level of growth they require, they should invest in the mental health of their people.20

1Mental health in the workplace, by World Health Organization,

2Rise of the relatable organisation: Global Talent Trends 2022, by Mercer

3Great Expectations: Making Hybrid Work Work, by Microsoft

4About Mental Health, by Centre for Disease Control and Prevention

5Gone for now, or gone for good? How to play the new talent game and win back workers, Aaron De Smet, Bonnie Dowling, Marino Mugayar-Baldocchi, and Bill Schaninger, McKinsey and Company

6COVID-19 and burnout are straining the mental health of employed parents, Erica Coe, Kana Enomoto, Ashin Kothari, and Jeris Stueland

7The Work Trend Index: The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work- Are We Ready, by Microsoft

8Experience is everything. Get it right, Tom Puthiyamadam and Jose Reyes, by PWC

9Blueprint for the emerging mental health agenda: What, Why, and How for HR and Business Leaders, by Dave Ulrich, HR Congress

10Resetting your employer brand to enhance employee experience in times of the great reflection, by Farai Mugabe, HR Congress

11Workplace mental health has become a strategy for business performance, Josh Bersin by The Josh Bersin Academy

12Customer Success Stories, by WorkHuman

13The bit before HR does their thing, by Aliwoodsgigs, Instagram

14Stop Telling employees to be resilent, by Liz Fossilen and Mollie West Duffy

15The Future of Work is Human, by Work Human

16The Cost of Toxic Cultures, by John Rossheim, Work Human

17British Airways employees vote to strike over wages as a wave of employee discontentment increases in the UK, by Farai Mugabe

18Back Basics: What is Employee Recognition, Aaron Kinne, WorkHuman

19 The Human-Centred Leader,by Lynne Levy, Work Human

20The Future of Work is Human, by Work Human

Written by: Mihaly Nagy

Rate it

Post comments (0)

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post


Subscribe now and receive our weekly updates.