Happiness at the workplace: The costs of not taking mental health as responsibility 

Tomorrow at the 10th of October it’s World Mental Health Day. Although I try to focus on the positive outcome of this crisis as much as possible, these challenging and disruptive times definitely changed the way we feel. I really hope that what will follow motivates you to put the mental health of your team on the agenda not only for a day, a or during a crisis, but always and all year long. 


By the time, I think most of you are aware of how important it is to invest in the wellbeing of your team. Lots of research shows that happy employees impact the performance of your organization in many ways   

  • It reduces stress, boost the immune system, gives more energy 
  • It stimulates employee engagement, productivity (+43%), resilience 
  • It reduces staff turnover with - 51% 
  • It boosts creativity & fun 
  • It enriches relationships with colleagues 
  • It improves customer satisfaction (+22%) 
  • It generates better leadership 


Acknowledging this, you wonder how it is possible that still so many organizations struggled with their employee engagement, long before this pandemic. A crisis of this extent on top of this disengagement, requires urgent and structural action. Especially I you look into researches on the cost of not paying enough attention to the mental health of your team, you might want to shift some priorities.  


For example. Let’s look into a health care organization of 250 employees in the Netherlands. The burn out % in this sector is 14,5% and sick leave cost per day is 244 euro. As the average recovery period of a burn out is 8 months, your total cost can easily become more than 1.500.000 euro. 


Employers, who do not recognize how vital employee wellbeing is, often believe that mental health is not their responsibility. Soif you still don’t feel that responsibility, I hope these kinds of calculations will wake you up. 


There are no quick fixes for shaping a crisis proof organization. Building a happy workplace is about shaping a culture and that takes time. But by taking little steps, you can start with some quick wins. So, here are 3 tips you can start with on Monday: 






Communicate 2-3 times more and ask questionsSchedule weekly (group or one-on-one) call-ins, separate from scheduled business meetings. Create space to express concerns and also to celebrate success. 





Offer ‘first aid’ in work-life balance. For most of us remote work means more stress, less positive energy, less engagement, less fun and often more working hours. Allow “windowed working” and lead your team on output instead of working hours. Most important, TRUST your team! 





Make sure employee engagement is on your agenda every day. This is part of an ongoing process of (re) shaping your culture, your purpose and vision. Of redefining leadership, reinvent yourself and your organization and invest in personal and team development   

But there also quick wins easy to implement. Try laughing more and experience the impact of this positive vibe. Plan remote teambuilding, there is lots of good stuff. And celebrate success during more (virtual) happy hours!