Mental health issues in the workplace are on the rise. As the World Health Organization reports, more than half the world’s population is working, and 15% of them live with a mental health disorder. The report further says that 12 billion working days are lost every year due to depression and anxiety alone.
Depression alone can cost the global economy US$1 trillion each year from reduced productivity.
Needless to say, most organizations are now aware of mental health issues and are taking proactive measures to improve the mental and emotional wellbeing of their employees.
Long-term benefits of mental health initiatives
Mental health initiatives at the workplace can have long-term benefits if done right. As the Society for Human Resources Management mentions, many employers are proactively implementing mental health programs across their organizations.
Some of the potential long-term benefits include:
Improve in productivity
The report shows that employees who received treatment for depression showed less absenteeism at the workplace and improved attendance by 40 to 60%. 86% of employees also showed improved focus and productivity at work when their issues were proactively addressed.
Increased employee retention
A survey report says that 59% of their respondents left their job because of mental health reasons. Addressing such concerns proactively at the workplace can improve employee retention.
Enhanced employee engagement
Employees who receive constant support and motivation at the workplace feel more engaged at their workplace. By implementing various wellness programs at the workplace, organizations can portray themselves as a great workplace that takes care of their employees.
Positive brand image
Companies that are invested in the wellbeing of their employees bolster the company’s reputation and a positive brand image. This positive brand image can help attract top talents, retain employees for a longer time, and build a positive work culture.
However, taking measures and implementing workplace wellness programs is not enough! Organizations also need to find ways to measure the efficacy of the programs and how these initiatives are impacting the workplace's productivity. In this article, we will look into various program evaluation methods that you, too, can implement at your workplace.
3 ways to evaluate mental health initiatives
Assessing workplace mental health initiatives needs a multidimensional approach. Here are some ideas for you to consider.
Rely on outcome assessment tools
Use clinically approved third-party assessment tools to assess the outcome of your mental health program. Look for the employees' overall improvement scores. You may also want to measure the reduction in mental health issues at the workplace.
Conduct employee surveys
Employee surveys are one of the effective measures to gauge the pulse of the employees. Such surveys offer an avenue to listen to the employees carefully and derive insights into their emotional wellbeing and their perception of the mental health program available to them. You may include a mix of questions in the survey to understand their burnout, productivity, work morale, culture, job satisfaction, stress level, etc.
Review workforce data
Analyze various workforce data indicators like rate of absenteeism, turnover, productivity, etc, to gauge the emotional wellbeing quotient of the employees before implementing a program. Analyze the same data points after 6-12 months to see if there are any changes. For example, if you notice the absenteeism rate has decreased after the implementation of the program, you know your program is a success.
Building an evaluation protocol
An evaluation protocol is super important and should be designed and implemented before the initiation of any mental health program. The evaluation protocol should be based on the goal and objective of the program.
The evaluation protocol should have the following key components:
Accumulation of data
Before starting the program, set clear goals that are measurable. If you have broad goals, break them down into smaller goals. For example, if you want to measure the rate of decrease in absenteeism, then define a range for it.
Accurate data helps you measure this goal accurately. For example, if you're measuring absenteeism rate, then determine a time frame. Count the absenteeism rate before and after the program for a correct assessment.
Have a baseline
Documenting your baseline is important as it helps you to determine if your program worked or not. If you are measuring qualitative data, then pay attention to what the managers are saying. How is the morale of the organization before and after the program?
If you’re measuring quantitative data, determine the rate or the change over time. Tie them back to revenue loss or profit to understand how the program impacted the company’s turnover.
Document the different processes involved before and after implementing the program. How many employees attended the program? How was the program made available to everyone? Conduct surveys from time to time to understand if the attendees are finding the session impactful? Process evaluation helps you to remember what you did throughout the tenure of the program.
Different levels of evaluation
Once your program is implemented, it's time to evaluate the program. Remember to evaluate the program at various levels. For example, apart from the obvious – asking the employees “how they are feeling” or the effectiveness of the program- you can also conduct surveys to understand the overall reaction of the employees of the program. Ask questions about the competency of the trainer, if the program met their expectations, how the sessions were paced, etc.
You may also evaluate the program basis of their learning if the participants have learned the ideas and applied them in their work life. You may also gauge the behavioral aspects of the participants by interviewing their managers, supervisors, and colleagues.
Implementing mental health initiatives in the workplace is the first step towards creating a healthy workplace culture. However, knowing the effectiveness of the program helps you determine whether your efforts are going in the right direction and if they are creating a positive impact on the work life of the employees.