The modern employee is focused on digital-first approaches, prioritising both holistic wellness and efficiency. As a result, companies need to align their incentives with value, rather than relying solely on financial incentives to address workforce issues such as presenteeism and absenteeism. Unfortunately, these problems have often been overlooked.
With an expected 25% of the workforce in Asia being Gen Z by 2025, HR professionals who are forward-thinking must embrace digital solutions to provide a comprehensive experience of a modern workplace. This will help create an attractive Employee Value Proposition that not only attracts new talent but also retains existing employees with sustained productivity.
Presenteeism is hurting bottom lines
It is well-established that mental health has a significant impact on presenteeism, where employees are physically present at work but struggle to fully engage or be productive due to their mental state. According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization, depression and anxiety alone result in a staggering £1 trillion in lost productivity annually.
Individuals facing mental health challenges often find it difficult to maintain focus, concentration, and motivation, leading to decreased productivity and financial consequences for businesses. Even one employee struggling with presenteeism can have negative effects on team morale, productivity, and overall performance. These consequences include reduced efficiency, missed deadlines, and increased stress levels.
Mitigating presenteeism is crucial to protect a business's bottom line.
Studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association have shown that presenteeism resulting from depression and pain costs companies approximately three times more than productivity loss due to absences related to the same conditions. To put this into perspective, consider a company with 50 employees.
Based on research on workplaces in the Asia-Pacific region, it is estimated that 13 employees may be dealing with mental health challenges and require support. This scenario could result in a staggering 3,355 days of lost productivity due to mental health issues, which is equivalent to approximately nine years, and entail a business cost of £537,004 (approx. US$670,000).
Recognising the need for improved employee support
It is imperative to shift the focus from asking "why" to understanding "how" things need to change and to recognise that each employee has unique needs in order to unlock their full potential.
One of the most common well-being initiatives put forward is the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). However, missed opportunities to secure employee buy-in, misunderstandings of the service, and stigma can lead to poor engagement. This not only wastes the initial investment but also prevents employees from receiving the care they need. While approximately 30% of individuals experience symptoms of a diagnosable mental illness, only about 4.5% utilise EAP services each year, with less than 1% average EAP performance in Asia.
Companies that implement EAPs need to see improvements in three key areas: increased utilisation rates, improved collaboration and coordination of care, and measurable outcomes. EAPs were initially created to help those with substance abuse issues and have evolved over the past five decades, but the low utilisation rate indicates that there are still significant gaps. Employers in the Asia Pacific region now recognise the urgent need to address larger problems such as presenteeism by approaching wellness from a holistic perspective, considering support for every point on the mental health continuum, and offering sustainable and adaptive solutions as employees move along this.
Harnessing Technology to Combat Presenteeism
Digital experiences offer convenience and personalised experiences that can be accessed directly through smartphones and other devices. This expectation also applies to health and wellness experiences, which should prioritise privacy, confidentiality, and convenience. It is crucial for digital support to be culturally sensitive and avoid adding any stigma to employees. For example, providing psychological assistance in a private setting allows individuals to increase their self-awareness and seek support that aligns with their comfort level and specific needs.
To meet the needs of the modern employees, Neurum Health develops technology to help members understand and manage their mental and lifestyle health in a credible, precise, and private way. The app uses precision AI to forecast trends in users' mental health and provides smart recommendations for practical resources and tools to help them manage their thoughts, cope with stress, and improve their sleep quality.
In one of the latest research studies, Neurum's health platform achieved a 60% retention rate from 80 users, and 72% of all users took action on the platform's smart recommendations daily. Furthermore, the research showed that 94% of all users found the lessons and tools useful in managing their everyday challenges.
The health platform also achieved positive results in terms of employee satisfaction. It experienced a 480% increase in employee engagement compared to other solutions. Additionally, it enhanced Employee Net Promoter Scores (NPS), with 80% of employees reporting a more positive perception of their workplace after roll-out.
Preventative care management can safeguard businesses from the risks associated with mental health issues escalating to a point where they negatively impact the company's financial performance. By providing employees with access to mental health resources and support, businesses can prevent the hidden consequences of mental health issues, such as reduced productivity, disability claims, and employee discontent, thereby avoiding financial repercussions.