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The global coronavirus has disrupted life in unimaginable ways and it has become very clear that our underlying social fabric may never be the way it ‘used to be.’ This pandemic has made it impossible to ignore the gaps in mental health awareness, lack of workplace policies to effectively support employees and the social inequalities in America.
In just the past week, first-time jobless claims totaled 1.4 million, and nearly 49 million jobless claims have been filed since the coronavirus was declared a pandemic in March. Becoming unemployed is inextricably linked to having a negative impact on mental health, and there are other contributing factors in the workplace, including:
- Inadequate health and safety policies
- Poor communication and management
- Limited decision-making abilities
- Lack of support for employees
- Inflexible working hours
- Lack of clarity with roles and responsibilities
According to the World Health Organization, nearly 264 million people suffer from depression across the world. In the U.S., nearly one in five adults live with a mental illness. It is expected that only 41 percent of people who had a mental disorder in the past year received professional health care or other services.
The cost of poor employee mental health to businesses is significant:
- $80 billion to $100 billion in annual costs to U.S. businesses.
- $193 billion in lost earnings per year.
- 400 million lost work days annually due to depression.
- $1 trillion lost to the global economy each year in lost productivity
It’s not only good business, but socially responsible to create a healthy, progressive workplace that creates awareness for, and validates the importance of mental health.
Employers who prioritize mental health with treatment programs, workplace safety policies and progressive awareness initiatives not only increase productivity, secure their bottom line, but also create a viable and engaged workforce. Ultimately, prioritizing the mental and emotional wellbeing of employees will increase profit, improve lives, and transform culture.
What happens when diversity and employee engagement is ignored? It causes short-term and long-term issues that negatively impact productivity, profit, stagnation and brand reputation.
Leaving dollars on the table
According to a Gallup Poll, organizations that effectively engage their employees achieve earnings-per-share growth that is more than four times that of their competitors. Compared with business units in the bottom quartile, those in the top quartile of engagement realize substantially better customer engagement, higher productivity, better retention and 21 percent higher profitability. Engaged workers also report better health outcomes.
Groupthink: Risking stagnation vs. innovation
It is proven that workplace diversity will lead to increased innovation among your team. Diversity at the leadership level creates an open and transparent environment where diverse ideas are heard and welcomed. When you have diversity in your organization, people bring their own background and experiences to brainstorming. At the same time, innovative products and services cannot be built without taking into account diverse perspectives, experiences and backgrounds. This leads to more innovation and better performance on a team.
Risking reputation and increasing turnover
Lack of diversity can create a hostile environment and contribute to greater turnover. When employees feel like they don’t fit in, they’re not likely to stick around. By creating a diverse and inclusive company culture, employees will be drawn to your company and want to stay.
Additionally, internal culture has its own way of ‘going external.’ As we’ve seen with companies like Uber and Google, lack of diversity or biased workforce policies create public backlash and go viral on social media. If your company isn’t viewed as being inclusive, customers will often withhold investments and purchase. This is especially true with Millennial and Gen Z customers, who both value social consciousness and progressive human rights policies. A lack of diversity means that you may miss out on opportunities to increase sales, foster strong customer relationships, and ultimately enhance profitability.