Rethinking Workplace Priorities
Blog Post

Rethinking Workplace Priorities

Why Workplace Mental Health should be Higher on the List 

It’s easy to look at your list of to-dos and wonder if you really have the time and energy to make workplace mental health a priority. You might worry about opening up pandora’s box, or wonder whether your team will ask more of you than you are able to give. 

You’re not alone.

It’s difficult to venture down this path. It can be scary. It can feel risky. 

And then you wonder if things are really that bad that this has to take centre stage. You haven’t been hit with increased WorkSafeBC premiums as a result of the new mental disorder compensation. Bullying isn’t an issue in your workplaces. Absenteeism and disability costs aren’t huge issues for you yet. And then there’s that thing that tends to hold you back from embarking on any major change: TIME!

Time is the factor that keeps many of us from looking at what we do and considering ways to do it differently, ways to do things better.

But sometimes, our decision to put things off until we have more time, is exactly the reason we end up where we don’t want to be.

Economists talk about something called opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is the loss of choice y when choice x is chosen. Here’s how Wikipedia defines it: In microeconomic theory, the opportunity cost of a choice is the value of the best alternative forgone, in a situation in which a choice needs to be made between several mutually exclusive alternatives given limited resources. 

Hmm…let’s put this into action when it comes to workplace mental health:

Suppose you are invited to a free webinar through Small Business BC about workplace mental health (note: you are! It’s June 2). The invitation has no resale value. On the day of the webinar, one of your contacts invites you to lunch (you usually go dutch, so the cost will be about $25). 

You are really committed to workplace mental health but you also really value your time with Dave.

The webinar usually has a cost so this one time offer is unique. You would otherwise pay about $50 to attend. 

What is the opportunity cost of having lunch with Dave and skipping the webinar? 

The benefit you forgo (that is, the value to you) is the benefit of taking part in the webinar ($50). Since you will be paying your share of lunch, you are now spending $25, bringing the total opportunity cost of lunch to $75.

Let’s not, however, forget that having lunch with Dave has benefits. It may provide you with a chance to relax, reconnect and of course eat lunch. If we calculate this at $40, you’re still out $35.

Building to the Future

We all want to work in a mentally healthy workplace. We want to enjoy our work. We want to feel safe. We want to make connections with our colleagues. 

If you’re someone who is concerned with workplace mental health, and aspires to a culture that is psychologically safe, maybe it’s worth dedicating the time to learning about how to achieve this end goal despite having limited resources. Maybe the risk of not doing it is far more costly than at first glance.

Attend Mental Wellness: Understanding and Addressing Mental Health in the Workplace at Small Business BC or via webinar, on June 2.

Register at: http://www.smallbusinessbc.ca/seminars/

About Julia Kaisla

Julia Kaisla is the Direector, Community Engagement, at the Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division. The CMHA, BC Division exists to promote the mental health of British Columbians and support the resilience and recovery of people experiencing mental illness.

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