Impact of the workplace on employee mental health

New research shows that our workplaces have a significant impact on employee mental health and wellbeing. You can read the full report here.

MQ Mental Health Research has joined forces with people and the WorkWell Research Center at North West University to conduct a cross-sector study into workplace dynamics in the UK and Ireland. The goal is to develop a framework that helps leaders build mentally healthier workplaces that deliver better outcomes for their people and, in turn, drive the performance of their organizations.

The value of the study is underlined by MQ CEO Lea Milligan’s observation that “fostering mentally resilient workplaces is not just a moral imperative, but an economic necessity,” and represents the first step in building an evidence-based roadmap for this journey.

The first wave of the study began in 2022 and captured responses from 5,445 employees across 15 organizations, across a variety of industry sectors.

Main findings:

  • 1 in 4 employees are at high risk of burnout and another 22% show signs of stress-related health problems.
  • The primary driver of burnout and stress-related poor health is workload, which, in turn, is driven by frustration with physical equipment and resources (e.g., computer systems in professional settings and kitchen equipment in the hotel industry).
  • Other important drivers of burnout and stress-related poor health include poor perceptions of person-job fit among employees and high emotional burden (i.e., situations at work that personally affect employees).
  • The ultimate impact of poor mental health and wellbeing in the workplace is substantial: those at high risk of burnout cost almost 11 times more (in terms of burnout, lost productivity and absenteeism) than those with manageable stress levels.
  • Approximately one-third of the employees in the sample were seriously considering leaving their organizations, and one-quarter showed psychological detachment from their organization.
  • Younger employees were at significantly higher risk of stress-related illness than older employees, while high risk of burnout was experienced at a relatively constant rate but was considerably lower among those over 60 years of age.

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