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The ROI of Supporting Employee Mental Health

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A man sits cross-legged on a couch while listening to music on white wired headphones. There are plants in the room behind him.

Employees have been bruised by the events of the last two years, and many are feeling a form of despair, anxiety and a lost sense of belonging. While the road ahead still appears rocky, employers can provide mental health options to help cultivate a feeling of belonging, encourage psychological safety and provide tools and training to help struggling employees find the support they need.

In this episode from The New Shape of Work podcast, Wolfgang Seidl, leader of workplace Health consulting in the U.K. and Europe for Mercer Marsh Benefits, shares how employers can address mental health challenges through benefits and culture to encourage employees to bring their best self to work. 

On prolonged stress:

All of us respond to severe and prolonged periods of stress, and that’s a normal response to an abnormal event, so we shouldn’t get too worked up about the fact that we are getting stressed. … but prolonged periods of stress without relaxation are unhealthy and lead to the depletion of our immune system’s reserves. So, cumulative stress is real. We see people feeling a form of despair in society and lost sense of belonging. 

On the range of potential human experiences:

At one extreme, some people feel fine or are even flourishing, at the other end of the spectrum, some people may experience depression. … Then, there is this big group in the middle … that group is languishing, experiencing brain fog and doesn’t feel comfortable anymore in the world we live in as it gets increasingly uncertain and unsafe … alluding to the cost of living crisis, the war in Ukraine, the pandemic, and the emotional loss of what we used to think of being normal. 

On the power of purpose and altruism:

Being purpose-driven is a very important way in which companies can support employees today. The shining stars among them will be the companies that create a purpose for everyone to get behind. … I would like to also sound the warning bells a little bit about purpose-washing … aligning the purpose of individuals with the overarching purpose of the organization is a more complex and caring process than just decreeing a simple purpose. … Then there’s … altruism … which is another powerful tool. … Human beings are measurably happier … when helping others. … We need to bear in mind that is linked to ESG agendas as well. It’s quite easy to mobilize people with altruistic outcomes and goals.

On the value of supporting employee mental well-being:

The most respected authors in the space agree that, as a rule of thumb, well-being programs tend to return four to five times the amount invested in them.

Wolfgang Seidl

Partner at Mercer

Dr. Wolfgang Seidl is a partner at Mercer and leads Workplace Health Consulting in the UK and Europe. He advises organizations on health and well-being strategy, integrated models of health care, data analytics, and proactive interventions, such as resilience programs.

Kate Bravery

Global Advisory Solutions & Insights Leader at Mercer

Kate Bravery is a Global Advisory Solutions & Insights Leader for Mercer. She has more than 20 years of experience in human capital consulting and helping organizations achieve a talent advantage through people. Bravery has expertise in people strategy, talent management, assessment/leadership development and HR process design.

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