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January 18, 2022 Amelia Wilcox

How to Measure the ROI of Your Mental Health Program

Understanding the benefits of your workplace mental health initiatives

A whopping 41.5% of people reported symptoms of anxiety or depression in 2021. 

For a company of 1,000 people, just focusing on addressing depression can reduce company costs by $340,000. 

Mental health impacts everything we do as human beings. Mental health is so pervasive that it impacts everything humans do at work. Thus, it affects every aspect of a business.

When mental health is supported at work, everyone benefits—from the individual contributor to the CEO.

If your company isn’t addressing employee mental health right now, don’t worry! It’s not too late. You are missing one of the most crucial tools in today’s business world, but there is still a chance to provide what your employees really need.

So, if mental health is so impactful, how do you start measuring the ROI on employee mental health programs?

  1. Break the ROI elements down into measurable categories
  2. Understand the difference between the quantiative and qualitative benefits
  3. Start measuring progress and seeing the positive impact!

Keep reading because this article will teach you how to communicate those benefits to your company leaders as well.

The Quantitative Benefits

This is the hard data company executives want to hear about. They are the benefits you can expect from mental health programs based on scientific research.

Measure how your company stands in these areas before and after implementing your mental health program to see the true ROI impact.

Here are a few of the best quantitative metrics we’ve seen clients track to determine the ROI on their wellness program.

1. Reduce healthcare costs

According to NCBI, mental health challenges cost the U.S. economy $16.3 trillion each year.

Everyday stressors like financial insecurity, long work hours, work-life balance struggles, high job demands, and little control of day-to-day work when combined can be as harmful to an employee’s health as secondhand smoke.

Our bodies and minds are very closely connected. When our mental health suffers, so do our bodies and vice versa.

Poor mental health and stress on the job can lead to health problems including:

  • Chronic pain
  • Migraines and tension headaches
  • Lowered immunity to other illnesses

And mental health disorders also contribute to diseases such as:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory disease
  • Heart disease

Things like exercise, nutrition, and therapy services help prevent high employee healthcare costs down the road.

How to Calculate It: SHRM has a great spreadsheet that will help you calculate your company’s health care costs per employee.

2. Reduce absenteeism and presenteeism

Depression alone leads to 200 million lost workdays each year. 

Depression management can get 120 million of those workdays back—up to a 60% reduction in missed workdays.

According to NCBI, “Nearly 86 percent of employees treated for depression report improved work performance.”

When mental health is a priority at work, employees take days off when they need them—reducing presenteeism, absenteeism, and increasing productivity and wellbeing in the long run.

Related: Absenteeism at Work and What You Can Do About It

How to Calculate It: To find your company’s absenteeism rate, divide the number of absent days by the number of typical workdays in a given period.

Calculating the presenteeism rate is much harder to measure. A lot of intangibles, like employee satisfaction, play into presenteeism. Try surveying your employees to get a sense of their level of productivity on the job. 

This article walks through some more ways to calculate presenteeism.

How to Measure the ROI of Your Mental Health Program—man and woman looking at printed graphs

3. Increase retention

20% of the population have quit their jobs due to mental health struggles. And this number is even more serious for the 50% of Millennials and 75% of Gen Z that have left due to mental health reasons.

91% of Gen Z say it is essential that their employer has a mental health policy in place.

Turnover is one of the most expensive costs for businesses (losing an employee can cost 1.5 to 2 times that employee’s salary). If you’re not addressing mental health at work, you fail to address a primary need of today’s workforce. What business can survive that?

When employees feel like they are a part of a community and not just a line on a spreadsheet, they are a lot more likely to be invested in your company—and to be investing in their own mental health.

Related: How to Convince Executives that Addressing Employee Attrition is Critical

How to Calculate It: To find your company’s retention rate for the past year, divide the number of employees that stayed at your company in the past year by the number of employees you started with on the first of the year. Multiply that number by 100, and you’ve got your retention rate. 

4. Reduce disability leave

Most people will suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lifetime. Mental illness has been estimated to account for about one-third of disability claims and 70% of workplace disability costs, according to McKinsey.

Mental illness can also lead to chronic pain and puts employees at greater risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. In serious cases, mental illness can make adults twice as likely to develop these diseases.

Addressing mental health at work helps decrease disability leave for psychological and physical struggles (more on that in the healthcare costs section above).

How to Calculate It: Keep close tabs on how many days employees take off due to their disabilities and how many disability claims are coming in overtime, if possible.

The Qualitative Benefits

The qualitative—or intangible—benefits make a difference in your organization’s culture. The intangibles include employee satisfaction, increased manager-employee trust, and more, which feed into the company culture.

Just like your mental health program should address the employee’s whole being, it will also impact nearly every aspect of your business for the better. 

1. Increase job satisfaction

Giving employees what they want (and need!) will undoubtedly improve their work satisfaction. Mental health support is one of those needs.

Prioritizing mental health at work helps address Forbe’s fundamentals of employee satisfaction:

  1. Good work fit — Healthier employees are more likely to use their strengths to the fullest on the job.
  2. Knowing that what you do matters — If employees feel that they matter, they will likely be more passionate about making a difference for customers. Providing wellness benefits is a great way to let employees know they are appreciated.
  3. Working with people you get along with — Mental health programs can help reduce interpersonal conflict.
  4. Getting feedback — Mental health programs help managers realize the importance of talking about mental health and helping employees know where they stand.
  5. Growth opportunities — Mental health programs help employees grow personally so they can grow more professionally.

2. Increase employee engagement

Employees that feel better are more likely to participate. When employees feel that their mental health is supported, they will feel comfortable being themselves at work, helping to create a culture where everyone feels accepted.

There are lots of employee engagement statistics out there you can use to see how engagement improves as mental health is addressed. Here are a few:

  • Emotional and mental wellness stats using employee engagement surveys
  • Retention and employee attrition rates
  • Customer satisfaction rates

Related: The Integral Link Between Employee Engagement and Mental Health

3. Attract new talent

There has been a shift towards valuing home life, mental health, and flexibility more than working long hours at work.

Addressing mental health helps employees maintain better work-life balance—a top concern for Millennials and Gen Z

Putting mental health first creates a more attractive working environment for everyone because it shows that the employer cares about their employees on a deeper level.

Related: Employee Benefits Close the Deal for Top Talent Recruits

4. Improve interpersonal communication and conflict resolution

The International Journal of Conflict Management found that conflict at work leads to poorer mental health. Poor mental health contributes to more conflict at work—leading to burnout and other challenges.

Great mental health programs will bring in a therapist to talk to your team about conflict. Even if you think this isn’t necessary for your team, better mental health support that employees can access on their own time will help reduce conflict down the road.

Here are some tips on how to manage conflict in the workplace as an HR leader from HR Cloud:

  1. Clarify what is the source of conflict
  2. Find a safe and private place to talk
  3. Listen actively and let everyone have their say
  4. Investigate the situation
  5. Determine ways to meet the common goal
  6. Agree on the best solution and determine the responsibilities each party has in the resolution
  7. Evaluate how things are going and decide preventative strategies for the future

5. Increase trust and empathy

Company culture trickles down from the top. When executives put mental health first—and managers are open about their mental health—employees feel safer at work. Being vulnerable with one another increases trust.

Trust in the workplace and mental health are strongly correlated. Working in a trusting workplace environment leads to 32% higher mental wellbeing levels.

We are more receptive to other people on their healing journeys while walking on our own mental health journey.

Mental health programs help us appreciate neurodiversity and reduce the mental health stigma in the workplace, increasing empathy.

6. Improve company culture

Every one of these factors plays into the company culture. Your mental health program will get the ball rolling on these changes.

We highly recommend surveying your people using an employee engagement survey before and after implementing your mental health program so you have a better grasp of just how impactful it can be.

You’ll start to observe your team interacting and working differently. Odds are, employee ties will be stronger, and employees will start to get more excited about their work.

As time goes on, all of these benefits will multiply, leading to a tremendous ROI for your company!

How to Get ROI Stats on Your Mental Health Program

Focus on the hard benefits. Compare healthcare costs, absenteeism rates, and retention levels before and after implementing the mental health program.

Give your program at least 6 months to kick in before measuring its ROI.

Measure the intangibles as well. Send out surveys to your team before and after implementation. 

Loop your company managers in on what you are looking to measure so they can look out for changes in their team and provide feedback on those improvements and changes to you.

Here are some great questions we’ve discovered to ask employees before and after implementing the mental health program, all on a scale of 1-10.

  • How stressed have you been in the past month, on average?
  • How difficult is it for you to focus at work?
  • How passionately do you feel about your work and our company?
  • How anxious have you felt about work in the past month on a typical day?

The Key to Maxing the ROI of Your Mental Health Program

Now that you know all of these benefits of mental health programs, how do you get the maximum ROI possible?

Here is what we’ve seen work well.

  1. Integrate the mental health program into your company culture by talking about it during team meetings, training your managers on mental health, and getting your company executives to talk about their own mental health experiences.
  2. Truly making mental health a priority, not just tacking on a mental health program as a company benefit.
  3. Ensure that your mental health program is holistic and supports all areas of employee wellbeing, including physical, mental, emotional, and financial health.
  4. Encourage company leaders to embrace an open mental health dialogue and use the mental health program themselves.
  5. Ensure the mental health program you provide employees is designed for high utilization (no middle-man to set virtual therapy appointments, etc.). Work closely with them to increase employee engagement with the platform.

Whether your company has a mental health program or not, these stats on the relationship between mental health programs and a positive ROI can help get your leadership team on board with your mental health initiatives.

Here are some helpful mental health program ROI calculators to see how a mental health program can benefit your workplace.

Are you inspired to get a mental health program for your team? Try reading this article next: Your Guide to the EAP Implementation and Search Process.

HR.com Report: The Future of Employee Engagement

Unsure why employees are disconnected? This 44-page report has dozens of insights on which talent-management strategies are driving employee engagement the most. No email is required!

Amelia Wilcox

Amelia Wilcox is the Founder and CEO of Nivati, a leader in corporate massage and employee mental health support since 2010. Her high-growth B2B company provides employee stress management tools that arm businesses with actionable data and positive employee experiences to improve wellbeing, boost morale, and increase engagement.

Amelia has exponentially grown her company from a solo living-room service business to an international technology brand.

Awards
Recently listed as a Forty Under 40, Fast 50, Inc 5000 Twice awarded National Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year

Licenses, Certifications & Memberships
Licensed Massage Therapist since 2002
Member of American Massage Therapy Association
Served on Utah Worksite Wellness Council from 2012-2015

Education
Attended Utah College of Massage Therapy
Educated in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Utah

Publications
Massage Magazine (AMTA's publication)  

MENTAL HEALTH FOR THE WHOLE EMPLOYEE