Rhode Island Psychological Association
Research findings on the effects of psychological problems in the workplace
Psychological problems impair employees' productivity
87% of the Medical Directors, Personnel Directors and Employee Assistance Program Directors surveyed claimed stress, depression and anxiety impair their employees' ability to function effectively on the job (Warshaw/NYBGH, 1989).
Lost productivity for workers with Major Depression has been estimated at 7 to 10 days monthly (Simon & Katzelnick, 1997).
57% of Ohio small business executives surveyed claimed their companies have suffered productivity losses due to emotional or personal problems of their employees. 34% claimed their companies' overall efficiency dropped due to substance abuse (Belden and Russonello/APA and OPA, 1989).
Substance abusers were found to be 25-33% less productive than non-substance abusers (Kronson, 1991). 84% of individuals with panic disorder surveyed reported a decline in their quality of work due to panic attacks or associated phobias (Edlund and Swann, 1987).
Psychological problems increase the chance of employee injury
Stress accounts for 10% of all worker compensation claims ('Managing Mental Health...', 1990).
80% to 90% of all industrial accidents are likely related to personal problems and employees' inability to handle stress (Jansen, 1986).
Substance abusers were found to be 4-6 times more likely to have an on-the-job accident (Kronson, 1991).
The National Institute for Drug Addiction (1987) found chemically-addicted employees almost 4 times more likely to have an accident, and 5 times more likely to file a worker's compensation claim.
Psychological problems increase employee absenteeism
Medical Directors, Personnel Directors, and EAP Directors surveyed noted that employees suffering from stress, anxiety and depression suffered an average of 16 lost work days per year (Warshaw/NYBGH 1989).
In a 3 year study of a large corporation, 60% of employee absences were found to be due to psychological problems (Jansen, 1986).
Individuals with major depression were found to be over 4 times more likely to take disability days than non-depressed employees, and 3 times more likely to miss time from work. Due to its higher prevalence in the work force, minor depression with mood disturbance may account for 51% more disability days than major depression (Broadhead, et al., 1990).
Those testing positive for drug use were 2 1/2 times more likely to be absent than workers who did not test positive (Kronson, 1991). Substance abusers were 2 1/2 times more likely than non abusers to have absences of 8 days or longer (National Institute for Drug Addiction, 1982).
In 1980, alcoholism alone cost the nation 500 million lost work days (Harwood et al., 1984).
Businesses benefit from employees’ utilization of mental health services
The Stress Management Program at Safeway's Bakery Division has reduced lost work days due to employee injury from 1,740 days in 1977 to 0 days in 1990 (Spotlight: Managing stress in the Workplace, 1991).
Proper treatment for anxiety disorders reduced absenteeism from 17 days per year to 3 days per year, reflecting an 80% savings to employers in benefits (Salvador-Carulla, et al, 1995).
Kimberly Clark reported a 43% reduction in absenteeism and a 70% reduction in accidents among a sample of employees who participated in their Employee Assistance Program (cited in Wrich, 1998).
Philips Petroleum reported that its EAP program saved more than $8 million per year through fewer accidents, less sick leave, and higher productivity (cited in Wrich, 1998).
Ramada Corporation improved employee performance after implementing an EAP that prioritized substance abuse intervention. For example, among all employees, on-site accidents were reduced by 82%, and absenteeism was reduced by 50%.
Among employees who returned to work after substance abuse treatment, tardiness declined by 32%, absenteeism declined by 36%, job errors were reduced by 26%, and instance of failure to complete job tasks declined by 14% (Klebanow & Eder, 1992).
Prior to inpatient substance abuse treatment, 42% of individuals studied reported absences due to drugs, and 39% reported tardiness. One full year after treatment, these numbers dropped to 5% and 7% respectively (Harrison and Hoffmann 1989).
Over a four year period, the McDonnell Douglas Corporation's (MDC) Employee Assistance Program reduced termination for those in substance abuse programs by 42%, and for those in mental illness treatment by 28%, when compared to those in the traditional health plan (McDonnell Douglas Corporation, 1990).
Over a 5 year period, the same MDC program reduced absenteeism by 29% for those in substance abuse treatment, and 25% for those in mental illness treatment, compared to those in the traditional health plan. Full implementation is projected to reduce absenteeism by 7,761 days over the next 4 years. (McDonnell Douglas Corporation, 1990).
According to the insurer Northwestern National Life, the average cost per person in lifetime disability payments for stress-related illness is $73,270. However, the average cost to rehabilitate a disabled employee is only $1925-- a savings of over $71,000 per employee (Walker, 1991).
Six out of the top ten health problems chosen by over 400 corporate leaders as most seriously affecting their companies' work forces can be treated appropriately and effectively by practicing psychologists. The problems, along with their ranking, were: Cigarette Smoking (#2), Alcohol Abuse (#4), General Mental Health Problems (#5), Stress (#6), Drug Abuse (#9), and Depression (#9) (Yanson, 1991).
Belden & Russonello, (1989). Degree of and Responses to Employee Psychological Problems Among Small Businesses in Ohio: A Report of Findings from a Survey of Small Business Executives. A report prepared for the American Psychological Association and the Ohio Psychological Association.
Broadhead, W.E., Blazer, D.G., George, L.K., & Chiu, K. T., (1990). Depression, disability days, and days lost from work in a prospective epidemiological survey. Journal of the American Medical Association, 264 (19) 2524-2528.
Edlund, M.J., & Swann, A.C., (1987). The economic and social costs of panic disorder. Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 38 (12) 1277-1279.
Harrison, P.A., & Hoffmann, N.G., (1989). CATOR report: Adult inpatient completers one year later. St Paul: Ramsey Clinic.
Harwood, H.J., Napolitano, D.M., Kristansen, P.L., & Collins, J.J., (1984). Economic Costs to Society of Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Mental Illness: 1980, Research Triangle Inst.
Jansen, M., (1986). Emotional disorders in the labour force: prevalence, costs, prevention and rehabilitation. International Labour Review, 125 (5) 605-615.
Klebanow & Eder, 1992. (full reference coming soon)
Kronson, M.E., (1991). Substance abuse coverage provided by employer medical plans. Monthly Labor Review, April, 3-10.
'Managing Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Expenses,' (1990). William M. Mercer Meidinger Hansen, Inc., 1990.
McDonnell Douglas Corporation and Alexander Consulting Group, (1990). Employee Assistance Program Financial Offset Study 1985-1989. McDonnell Douglas Corporation.
National Institute on Drug Abuse, (1987). 'Strategic Planning for Workplace Drug Abuse Programs,' Department of Health and Human Services.
Salvador-Carulla, et al. (1995). (full reference coming soon)
Spotlight: Managing stress in the workplace, (March 1991). Prevention Report, US Public Health Service, p.7.
Walker, C.K, (1991) Stressed to Kill. Business and Health, Sept. p. 42.
Warshaw, L.J., (1989). Stress, Anxiety and Depression in the Workplace: Report of the NYBGH/Gallup Survey. Presented at Conference on Stress Anxiety and Depression in the Workplace, 10/18/89, New York, NY.
Wrich, J.T. (1998). Brief summary of audit findings of managed behavioral health care services.
Yanson, J., (1991). The 1991 national Executive Poll on Health Care Costs and Benefits. Business and Health, Sept. 1991 61-71.
Material adapted from:
American Psychological Association fact sheet, “The Effectiveness of Psychological Services in Improving Employee Productivity and Attendance.” http://www.apa.org/practice/prodpap2.html.
Coalition of Mental Health Professionals of Rhode Island fact sheet,“The Hidden Value of Mental Health Benefits.”