Research reveals significant ROI for workplace mental health programs

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Thursday, 21 November, 2019 - 11:30
Industry news
National News

Companies with mental health programs in place for one year had a median annual ROI of $1.62 for every dollar invested, while companies with programs in place for three or more years have a median annual ROI of $2.18 for every dollar spent, according to international research.

Conducted by Deloitte, the research report found that wellness programs are more likely to achieve positive ROI when they support employees along the entire spectrum of mental health—from the promotion of well-being to intervention and care.

Furthermore, employers could achieve greater program ROI by prioritising investment in higher-impact areas such as leadership training and preventive interventions, including psychological care benefits.

In addition, if employers measure their baseline data and take stock of existing initiatives, many organisations would realise they have already started to use the right tools to strengthen workplace mental health.

Putting in place mechanisms to measure performance can also enable organisations to achieve desired program impact, improve adoption rates, and enhance decision-making.

The report, The ROI in workplace mental health programs: Good for people, good for business, explores historical investment and savings data from seven large companies in Canada at various stages of rolling out mental health programs.

“The findings from this report provide a business case that is impossible to ignore,” said Anthony Viel, CEO of Deloitte Canada.

“Organisations committed to delivering and measuring impactful employee wellness programs are creating healthier workplaces and seeing investments in their people’s mental health pay off.”

The report observed that organisations beginning to explore investments in mental health programs struggle with where to start, and once the process has begun, they may also encounter common roadblocks.

While many companies are in the early stages of considering investments in workplace mental health, the report said there are a number of steps organisations can take:

1. Many organisations do not realize they already have numerous initiatives in place and can benefit from linking their existing programs, policies, and initiatives to workplace mental health factors. Exploring available data points (through insurance carriers, program reviews, health and safety, and HR data points) is also key to establishing a baseline understanding of the current state of employee mental health and well-being and influencing factors within the organisation.

2. After completing a current state and gap analysis, and taking into account current business drivers, organisations may opt to carry out the following activities concurrently, or sequentially: enhance existing programs; deploy new programs; followed by deploying pilots to test out, learn, and adapt and enhance programming for a larger rollout.

3. Identify and formalise meaningful KPIs, goals, objectives, and targets: Building upon the baseline/current state analysis of existing data points, companies can develop KPIs that aim to measure the desired outcomes and impacts of programming. Measuring short-term progress against goals is also necessary.

4. Measure KPIs and ROI on an ongoing basis to sustain progress and achieve desired outcomes:


“The case for investing in workplace mental health is clear,” said the report.

“What is needed now, regardless of organisations’ sector and size is for business leaders to recognise the importance of and commit to investing in the mental health of their employees.”