As health and wellness become increasingly ingrained in every aspect of our lives, from how we live and travel to what we consume and where we work, the USD 4.2 trillion global wellness industry has caught the attention of many employers looking for unique ways to attract and retain talent, manage HR costs and increase efficiency.
Understanding the marketplace and consumer trends spearheading the wellness industry’s trajectory is important in structuring an effective wellness management programme which best caters to their employees' needs.
Follow JLT as we explore Asia’s evolving wellness trends, utilise expert insight and provide fresh perspectives to help employers navigate the wellness industry’s offerings to create conducive work environments which cultivate longevity, inspire growth and generate impacts.
A mental health epidemic is spreading. Fueled by economic and societal pressures and stoked by our unhealthy use of social media and technology, which is driving isolation and loneliness, people are experiencing escalating levels of mental illness on an unprecedented scale.
According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 4 people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological illness at some point in their lives, and with around 450 million people currently suffering from such conditions, mental illness are among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
When it comes to the workplace, mental health problems are also on the rise, with conditions including stress, anxiety and depression now the leading causes of sickness absence. In addition, in 2017, Time magazine reported that studies had proven depression to be linked with an increased risk of conditions like stroke, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, and that a depressed mood—which included symptoms such as anxiety and fatigue—was as strong a predictor of heart disease as well-known risk factors like high cholesterol and obesity. Other mental-health diagnoses, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, have also been associated with increased risks of physical health problems.
“Mental health issues in the workplace have a direct influence on absence rates, medical cost, the level of employee engagement and subsequent productivity,” explains Richard Roper, Managing Director (JLT Benefit Solutions Asia).
“This, in turn, has a direct financial impact on organisations in addition to the overall issue of staff morale. Ultimately a happy workplace is a more productive workplace,” he argues.
With that in mind, here we look at some of the most common causes of poor mental health in the workplace, and how employees and employers can work together to overcome them.
Learn to spot and support
Disorders like anxiety and depression are often difficult to spot, with many employees hiding their true feelings in fear of them having a negative impact on their careers. But this doesn’t mean the topic should be shied away from. On the contrary, because of the stigma that surrounds mental health disorders, HR Managers and CEOs must ensure that they lead by example and champion mental wellbeing from the top down.
This means providing training for managers to learn how to spot and support those living with mental health problems, giving employees access to educational resources on mental health disorders and creating a safe environment for employees to communicate their feelings more openly, and without fear.
“Because of the stigma surrounding mental health issues, training managers to spot the signs of deteriorating mental health is important in addressing the issue at an early stage,” says Roper.
“How line managers handle such situations has a profound impact on improving workplace mental health. Companies that recognise this and train their managers to have a deep understanding of the topic are generally more successful at stemming the problem.”
Support can also be shown by providing access to professional help, when needed. As the cost to seek help is prohibitive to most and current healthcare insurance policies do not provide adequate coverage, employers have gradually started to take it upon themselves to offer this as a benefit.
This article was produced by Welltodo, in collaboration with JLT.
JLT specialises in providing employee benefits consultancy, insurance placement, health and wellness services to our corporate clients around the world. Our services range from a simple life cover in a single country to designing and implementing a global employee benefits strategy. Our focus is to help our clients manage and reduce their healthcare costs, attract and retain employees and increase productivity by creating a healthier and happier workforce.
If you would like to learn more about our services, please contact Richard Roper, Managing Director, Employee Benefits (Asia).