The ROI of employee mental health programs

'There's both an economic and moral imperative for Canadian employers to take action’

The ROI of employee mental health programs

Prioritizing the mental health of employees can have far-reaching financial benefits for businesses, according to a study by Deloitte Canada.

Companies in Canada which had mental health programs for workers for at least a year experienced a median annual return on investment of $1.62 for every dollar they spent, the report showed.

Meanwhile, organizations that had similar programs in place for three or more years enjoyed a median annual ROI of $2.18 for every dollar invested.

READ MORE: Is your organization ready for a mental health program?

The study explores the benefits of workplace mental health programs for both workers and their employers. It features historical investment and savings data taken from seven large companies in Canada that provided mental health programs and support for their employees.

Companies interviewed for the report include Air Canada, ATB Financial, Bell, Canada Life, CIBC, Desjardins Group.

“There’s both an economic and moral imperative for Canadian employers to take action, recognizing that the cost to the Canadian economy of poor mental health in our workplaces is estimated to be $50bn annually,” Deloitte Canada CEO Anthony Viel said.

“The findings from this report provide a business case that is impossible to ignore. Organizations committed to delivering and measuring impactful employee wellness programs are creating healthier workplaces and seeing investments in their people’s mental health pay off.”

Here are key findings from the report:

  • To produce positive ROI, wellness programs should support workers’ needs across the mental health spectrum, from promoting the well-being of individuals to providing intervention and care for them.
  • ROI can be increased if employers were to invest in higher-impact areas such as leadership training for employees, as well as preventive intervention such as psychological care.
  • Employers should measure baseline data and assess existing initiatives to find out if they have the appropriate tools in place to support mental health in the workplace.
  • Businesses can achieve their desired impact, improve adoption rates, and enhance decision-making if they have mechanisms in place that help measure the performance of their mental health programs.

READ MORE: Mental health group offers up extra resources

Canadian employers have expressed willingness to support the mental health of their employees. However, many are unsure where to begin.

Mental Health Works (MHW), a national social enterprise established by the Canadian Mental Health Association, has come out with a definitive guide on how to better navigate workers’ mental health needs. The document focuses on three major points:

  • Building awareness around mental illnesses and other mental health issues
  • Helping workers develop appropriate skills to respond to mental health concerns
  • Educating organizations on how they can work with employees in making workplace mental health support more accessible

“As public awareness of mental health increases, more and more employers have a desire to provide mental health support to their employees,” said Jim Harris, CMHA Ontario’s Director of Operations.

“By looking at accommodation specifically through a mental health lens with our guide, employers are starting to prioritize mental health on the same level as physical health.”

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