The Business Case for Investing in Workforce Health

An overwhelming majority of employers acknowledge that workplace mental health must be a priority for the well-being of their workers and for the health of their business.

86% of employers now list mental health as a top concern, according to a 2022 survey by Willis Towers Watson.

Roughly half of companies report they are planning or considering a mental health action plan, which would catch them up with the one-quarter of companies that already have one in place.

The recent surge in employer action on workplace mental health reflects a growing awareness within the business community that employers have a responsibility to identify and reduce causes of workplace stress and burnout.

Employees are demanding change.

Increasingly, people are making employment decisions based on whether organizations support the health and wellbeing of their workforce. Employers that commit to these efforts will see the benefits both in the productivity and drive of their employees and in their company performance.

The Cost of Neglected Employee Mental Health

Mental illness is the single greatest cause of worker disability worldwide.

That’s because our mental health affects how we show up for work, and whether we show up at all.

Employers have a responsibility and opportunity to identify work-related causes of mental health stress and reduce them (and their costs) through intentional organizational and cultural change. Leaders at all levels of an organization, from the C-suite to middle managers, can take meaningful actions without substantial cost or effort to create more supportive environments for everyone.

Understanding the root causes of some common mental health challenges and disorders makes it easier to design benefits programs and resources that address real unmet needs and provide meaningful support to the workforce.

Taking action to address workplace mental health is a clear path to a healthier workforce and a stronger, more resilient business.

days of work every 3 months are lost by employees who are depressed. 1
of reduced productivity every 3 months is caused by depression. 1
is lost in productivity, health care costs and turnovers by employers every year. 2
of full-time U.S. workers have left a previous job due, at least in part, to mental health reasons. 3
of missed work days are attributed to burnout, depression or anxiety. 4

Employees Are Demanding Better

The incentive for investing in workplace mental health goes beyond the costs you’ll recover in productivity and retention.

It’s also what workers expect. 76% of workers believe their company should do more to support their mental health.

Efforts to champion workplace mental health can improve employees’ sense of purpose, boost customer loyalty and attract values-based investors.

Great gains don’t have to come at great cost. In fact, according to a 2021 Mind Share Partners survey, the mental health resource employees wanted most was a “more open” mental health culture at work. In a separate survey by the American Psychological Association, “regularly recognizing employees” was just as important to workers as additional mental health resources.


of American adults report symptoms of anxiety and/or depression 5


of employees would not recommend their workplace 6


of individuals report that it’s safer to remain silent about workplace stress 6


of individuals with diagnosed mental health disorders do not disclose it 7


disagree that their supervisor provides emotional support 8


want open mental health dialogue in the workplace 9


agree that employers have a responsibility to support mental health 7

Opportunity for Impact

As an employer, you are responsible for identifying work-related causes of mental health stress and reducing them through institutional and cultural change.

Leaders across the business community, from CEOs and C-suite executives to human resource professionals and line managers, can take meaningful actions to create more supportive environments for everyone. And, for employees who need professional care, you can provide resources and benefits to make it easier for them to access treatment.

Taking action to address workplace mental health is a clear path to a healthier workforce and a stronger, more resilient business. The bottom line: investing in a mentally healthy workforce is good for business.

By investing in mental health employers can:

  • Increase employee satisfaction
  • Increase employee engagement
  • Increased productivity
  • Improve retention
  • Increase uptake of mental health support
  • Reduce overall healthcare costs
  • Reduce workplace injuries
  • Reduce the number of employees going on disability leave
  • Reduce length of disability leave
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Leaders need to make strategic investments in initiatives that will help their businesses thrive. We partner with our members to understand their operations and organizational culture, identify opportunities for improvement, and communicate the need for long-term commitment to these initiatives to key stakeholders. We work to create a workplace that protects from psychosocial hazards and stressors, offers quality mental health benefits and services, and centers equity in everything.

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