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Harnessing technology to improve mental health in the workplace

It’s without a doubt that mental health is becoming acknowledged as one of the greatest challenges to face modern businesses. A report released by the Centre for Mental Health highlights that mental health problems in the UK workforce cost employers almost £35 billion in 2016.

The figures highlight that the overall costs are broken down into:

  • £10.6 billion in sickness absence;
  • £21.2 billion in reduced productivity at work, or ‘presenteeism’
  • £3.1 billion in replacing staff who leave their jobs because of their mental health.

An alarming amount of absenteeism in UK economy is attributed to stress, anxiety & depression – almost 50% in fact, which results in huge financial losses to the UK economy.

As is often the case, these significant challenges can be turned into great opportunities. One of the most overlooked strategies used to enhance organisational performance and resilience is the investment in employee mental health and wellness. Investment in these areas can deliver substantial improvements and value to the business and its workforce. Unilever are an example of an organisation who recognise the value of programmes that focus around mental health, employee wellness and occupational ill-health, reporting an ROI of 2.44x – proving that good health is good for business.

The statistics represent an opportunity to proactively address the issue; by improving the mental skills and toolsets of employees at all levels of business, and to embrace the use of technology to help drive positive change and engagement.

A key way in which we can use technology to improve mental health in the workplace is through coaching and an organisation/employee wellness app, providing tools, resources and guidance to target specific organisational objectives around employee wellbeing. These specific goals would be typically focused on helping the workforce; decreasing levels of stress, anxiety, depression and disengagement. From an organisational perspective, addressing these issues, wrongly seen as taboo, will lead to increased performance, staff retention and will maximise the individual and collective potential of your teams.

One of the main challenges when using technology in areas such as mental wellness and resilience is making the toolset accessible and relevant. Staff must see the value, benefit from its use and remain engaged – otherwise user engagement will drop-off. The paradox with self-help tools is that often in times of stress, frustration or anxiety – levels of user engagement can be at their lowest.

Technology can be utilised to improve accessibility, reduce user apathy and promote ease of use. App reminders, gamification, facial recognition, tonal patterns, behavioural and sentiment analysis are just some of the technologies used to help drive engagement – to great success.

There are two primary objectives of a corporate wellness and coaching app; to improve employee wellness and resilience, and to help improve and measure business performance.

Business performance is a subjective term. Boards are more focused on traditional performance metrics such as sales revenue, gross margin, customer retention and conversion rates – but employee wellness is often overlooked, and in any event – how can it be measured?

Using technology means organisations can measure these soft factors. Additionally, they can benefit from incredibly insightful data around the mental wellbeing of employees. Respecting the need for privacy and confidentiality, analytics can be used uncover trends and insights that many organisations were previously blind to or unable to measure. Stakeholders can drill down into data, with reports cut by region, office, business unit and even by team to compare insights, look at cause and effect and measure programme effectiveness.

Using innovative app technology to drive change, provides key measurement tools allowing organisations a ‘finger on the pulse’ of employee mental wellbeing and engagement from a strategic level, and while it’s clear that mental health is a challenge for businesses, by addressing the issue in a positive way and providing employees with the tools and coaching to manage their health, organisations will reap the benefits of their investment.

MTG have partnered with Pro Noctis, an award winning Human Performance specialist company that works with clients and organisations to create productive working environments, creating white-label employee wellness apps and self-help portals, that combines innovative technology, education, training and positive psychology – all underpinned by science, to improve wellbeing in the workplace by building mental resilience, creating a positive mindset culture and improve human performance.

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