There’s an elephant in the room in the workplace. It’s awkward and tricky and hard to grasp. Everyone keeps their head down and pretends that it’s not really there, but it’s real.

The uncomfortable truth? That the well-intended focus on mental health and wellbeing in workplaces isn’t resulting in improved wellbeing and sustainable productivity. It’s ironically causing increased stress and job insecurity.

What this means is that a lack of mental fitness — the skills, happiness, thought processes and focus required to do your job well — is costing businesses and individuals lots of money. That probably includes you.

Do you have the courage to do something about it?

Work stress, burnout and reduced productivity are all classic signs of poor mental fitness:

  • $11 billion per year is lost Australia wide through absenteeism ($4.7 billion), presenteeism ($6.1 billion) and compensation claims ($146 million).
  • $718 million was lost in all stress-related claims in Western Australia in 2015/2016 alone - a 25% increase over four years.
  • $320 million to $450 million a years is lost to mental health issues in the resource industry alone.

If you think that everyone at your business is shiny and happy and immune to this then you’re kidding yourself. It’s not just the obvious problems either.

For every doctor, project manager, designer, or truck driver who hits boiling point, there are thousands of others simmering under the surface. Soldiering on. Being slowly eroded by stress day after day. Acknowledge this and put a plan in place to deal with it. Mental fitness is vital to every organisation.

Managers: think you're too busy or don't have enough resources? Hogwash.

Benefiting from Mental Fitness is a matter of prioritisation. Take PwC Asutralia for example. One of the world's leading professional services firms has helped many of its clients embrace the concept that business excellence requires elements of workplace mental fitness. Trailblazing stuff. They have clearly seen that organisations that don’t take mental fitness seriously suffer from multiple business negatives. Stress, burnout, high staff turnover and ultimately lost productivity and profits.

A blinkered obsession with the bottom line ironically costs companies money. Savvy businesses now place as much emphasis on staff wellbeing and mental fitness as they do on maximising profits. You can be profitable as well as socially responsible and compassionate. The two goals are complementary.

The costs to businesses are plain to see; it’s the cost to the individual that are much harder to measure.

Employees: every sick day you take, every time you sit at your desk feeling frustrated and helpless, every time you lose focus and injure yourself, every time you miscommunicate with a colleague - it costs you. Beyond the obvious physical, emotional and financial costs, there are grave opportunity costs. A lack of mental fitness means you’re less likely to get that promotion or pay rise you’ve wanted for so long, less inclined explore that exciting new business venture, more likely to miss out on the opportunity to be more content, and less able to build relationships with those around you.

Why did we write ‘MindFit: How to create a kickass workforce to achieve long-term business excellence’? Why did esteemed business publisher Wiley agree to back it? To share the Link:Flow:Grow perspective. We truly hope to help improve your work life and reduce your losses whether you’re a senior or junior manager, a white collar or blue collar worker. All workplaces regardless of their industry will benefit from having a system in place that encourages mental fitness.

It’s taken me years of industry experience, of observation and trial and error, to get to this point. My hope is that this book can help get you there faster. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to take stock of how much poor mental fitness is costing you and your company and decide what you’re going to do about it. I welcome you to contact me to explore how. Please comment below or contact me on LinkedIn. Thank you.