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   Investing in productivity
Mental health advocate Steven Gamble says businesses will benefit from higher productivity when they instigate simple steps to care for their staff.
As an industry, 2020 provided us all with many lessons and opportunities to identify key areas of change to look at our processes and productivity to ensure sustainability. For many years, our industry has been a leader in adopting innovation in technology as well as best practice procedures, which has seen our industry punch well above its weight and hold its own against much larger markets.
I am extremely proud of our industry, and I find myself in a privileged position, with my roles
at both Bottcher Australia and Man Anchor, that I have the opportunity to have open and transparent conversations with many business owners and leaders across Australia, small and large, about the impact of Covid on both the business and its people. From these conversations what was made clear over the last 12 months, and a large contributor to navigating the pandemic for many of these businesses, was people’s ability to adapt and pull together to ride out an unprecedented and uncertain time.
As we look to 2021, it is time we acknowledge our industry’s greatest asset its people.
The wellbeing of the people will be what drives our industry’s sustainability and success for
the future, and opportunity for businesses large and small to improve productivity.
The facts are that it has been shown that investing in employee wellbeing and mental health education can have a positive impact on productivity, and ultimately the bottom line.
In Australia, poor mental health and wellbeing of employees costs businesses an estimated $12bn dollars a year in lost productivity through absenteeism, presenteeism and workers compensation. Manufacturing industries such as the printing industry feature high in the statistic of lost productivity from poor mental health and illness.
The manufacturing industry estimated cost per employee
for absenteeism with moderate mental illness is at $49 and with severe illness estimated cost at $532. The alarming fact is that the presenteeism impact on Australian manufacturing businesses averages a reduction of productivity of 33.9 per cent at an annual cost of $3,366
“Manufacturing industries such as the printing industry feature high in the statistic of lost productivity from poor mental health and illness.”
for moderate mental illness and $5,109 for severe mental illness. If we consider the statistic that one
in five Australians aged between 16 and 86 will live with a mental illness within a 12-month period and the Australian print industry employs around 27,000 people – the cost is enormous.
So what can we do as an industry, as a business and as leaders?
There are many factors that can support positive change in the above statistics, including improving job security, reducing job demands, improved job control through empowerment and flexibility.
Another successful and relatively simple opportunity is workplace implementation and promotion of positive mental health and wellbeing education programmes supporting self- care, prevention and early intervention.
By increasing the mental health literacy of the workplace and its people it creates a safe space for those who may be unwell to thrive on their path to wellness, it drives empathy between colleagues, and ultimately harmony within the team.
It does not need to be complicated; it can be as simple as starting with
a toolbox or morning tea session designed to start the conversation and the thought process. This can be followed up by education workshops and training for management and team leaders.
These are strategies which have proven to improve productivity within the workplace from 10 per cent to 30 per cent, with minimal cost to the organisation, providing a fantastic ROI.
The average small to medium
size business will see a ROI of $2.86 (under 100 employees) and a ROI
of $4.01 for a large business from any positive promotion or education around mental health within the workplace.
One point I will add, these programmes must be universal across the business, driven from the top, with buy-in from employees, so as to have a top-down, bottom-up approach that becomes part of the culture of the business. 21
Steve Gamble, Man Anchor
Mental health: productivity investment
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