Historically, unions and governments have had to step in and force employers to provide their workers with decent working conditions, benefits, and wages. These days, employers recognise the advantages that providing benefits can give their business. As well as attracting the best people, the right perks can make employees happier and more productive.
With the increased interest that society has taken in mental health over the past few years, a growing number of employers are now offering free access to therapy for their workers. But is this really an effective provision, or is therapy something that businesses should stay away from?
Unsurprisingly, the first thing most private businesses will be concerned about is their bottom line. Providing benefits to employees costs money, and therapy in particular can be quite expensive, so employers need to know that they are getting something in return for their investment. Fortunately, there is plenty of research that shows this is the case.
A 1990 study conducted by the University of Manchester looked at the benefits of therapy provision at the British Post Office. They found that within just 6 months, investing in therapy actually saved the post office £102,000. The reasons for this is that employees who are less stressed are both likely to be more efficient at the work they do, and less likely to take annual leave.
A more recent study conducted by McLeod in 2010 found that the number of sick days employees take could be cut in half by providing them with access to therapy. Fewer sick days means less work lost for companies, and the savings of this can be doubled if the company still provides pay for sick days.
The happier an employee is, the more likely they are to be properly engaged in their work. But a study conducted by Gallup in the U.S. in 2013 found that a mere 13% of employees are properly engaged in their work. While you will never see a company with 100% employee engagement, 87% leaves a lot of room to improve.
Another study conducted by the University of Warwick in England found that workers are 12% more productive when they are happy, and 10% less productive when they are unhappy. Google found that they were able to improve employee satisfaction by an impressive 37% by providing counselling, meaning that a sizeable chunk of their workforce is now more productive.
As the primary purpose of a private business is to turn a profit, many employers do not see the advantages of investing in intangible assets, especially when the benefits are hard to monitor. But as the research shows, making an investment in counselling can both save and make companies money. This does not even account for the benefit to the company’s reputation, which will improve and likely attract better workers and more customers. So if a business is really interested in achieving success, the science shows that therapy is an effective way to do so.