Poor Worker Mental Health Costs US Billions in Productivity Per Year, Gallup Survey Shows

Person sitting at desk with head in handsPerson sitting at desk with head in hands
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According to recent data from Gallup, employees' poor mental health negatively affect them and drive down productivity, highlighting the need for widespread company focus on well-being and service accessibility.

When focused on productivity, data shows that both U.S. employers and their employees are suffering due to poor mental health outcomes, according to a new poll.

U.S.-based workers' mental health is more likely to be hurt than benefited by their jobs, which costs the economy significantly, according to a new Gallup survey.

According to the poll, unplanned absences cost an average of $340 per day for full-time employees and an average of $170 per day for part-time workers.

A Gallup survey of nearly 16,000 working adults in the U.S. found that almost one in five workers rate their mental health as only "fair" or "poor.” 

Researchers found that these employees take an average of 12 unplanned days off annually — almost four times as many as workers who report “good,” “very good,” or “excellent” mental health. 

For employers, these unplanned absences culminate in almost $48 billion lost annually in productivity, according to Gallup.

Four in 10 workers said their job affects their mental health in an “extremely negative” way and almost 33% report a “somewhat negative” influence on their mental health.

Gallup found disparities in the results based on age and gender. 

Nearly half of U.S. workers under the age of 30 report that their job causes them stress and depression among other issues, according to the poll.  

Women employees overall are more likely to report depression, and young women under 30 having further increased rates, with 36 percent of young women employees reporting less than average mental health. 

By contrast, workers aged 65 and older overwhelmingly say their job has a positive impact on their mental health and the gap between men and women disappears, according to the poll. 

Gallup addresses factors of poor mental health and their risk factors, causes, and economic impacts through previous studies, such as: 

  • poor physical health 
  • caregiving
  • <a href="https://news.gallup.com/poll/390797/poor-sleep-linked-billion-lost-productivity.aspx" rel="" target="_blank">poor sleep</a>

Gallup also uplifts the importance of a holistic approach to addressing these issues. 

According to Gallup, over half of workers do not have easily accessible support services and healthy eating has been linked to a lower likelihood of depression.

Those who have full-time jobs report roughly half the rate of depression as those who are unemployed or involuntarily partially employed, highlighting the necessity of access to basic needs as well as secure employment.

Additionally, previous Gallup research has also shown that wellbeing has a 54% stronger causal influence on future depression and anxiety than the other way around. 

A recent report by the Office of the Surgeon General supports this data, finding that difficult managers and a “cutthroat” work culture can take a toll on employees' mental and physical health, according to CBS.

According to the outlet, job factors such as low wages, discrimination, harassment, overwork and long commutes can lead to mental illness as well as chronic physical health conditions like heart disease and cancer.

According to CBS, these findings show the need for employers to emphasize the importance for their employees.

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