Prioritising a healthy workplace in 2024: The importance of mental health - Antaris Consulting

Prioritising a healthy workplace in 2024: The importance of mental health

In today’s fast-paced business environment the focus on an employee health sometimes only extends to physical health excluding a crucial aspect that is often overlooked –employee mental health. According to a recent Irish study (Healthy Workplace Ireland: A Survey of Mental Health & Well-being Promotion in Irish Firms, by Cork University Business School), mental health-related sickness absence has increased post-pandemic, with 64% of employers stating that absenteeism — physical and mental-health related — adversely impacts business performance. Irish businesses should recognise that improving employee wellbeing is not just a desirable perk but a strategic necessity, which can lead to many benefits:

  • Productivity and Performance: A healthy workforce is more productive, they are able to concentrate more, make decisions, and solve problems efficiently. 
  • Employee Engagement and Satisfaction: Employees who feel their mental health is prioritised by their employer are more likely to be engaged and satisfied, which can lead to increased loyalty and reduced turnover.
  • Reduced Absenteeism/Presenteeism: By promoting mental health organisations can proactively address the root causes of stress, anxiety, and burnout, leading to a decrease in unplanned employee absences, distress, and low morale. 
  • Enhanced Creativity and Innovation: Positive and supportive workplace culture encourages employees to contribute ideas and collaborate effectively. This in turn can help build positive team relationships.
  • Legal Responsibilities: From a regulatory perspective organisations will be complying with the Irish Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, which is to ensure safe places of work for all employees; this covers mental as well as physical health and safety.

There are many guides and manuals that provide advice on how to foster a healthy workforce. One proactive route organisations can take is by implementing the ISO 45003 Occupational health and safety management – Psychological health and safety at work standard. ISO 45003 is developed to specifically address psychological health and safety in the workplace. It provides a framework for organisations to establish, implement, maintain, and improve processes and measures that contribute to the wellbeing of their employees. A summary on the key areas of ISO 45003 are listed below:

Leadership and Commitment:

The standard emphasises the importance of leadership commitment to mental health. By fostering a culture of support and understanding, leaders can create an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing mental health concerns without fear of stigma. 

Risk Assessment and Management:

ISO 45003 guides organisations in identifying and assessing psychosocial risks in the workplace. By conducting risk assessments, employers can proactively identify stressors and factors that may impact mental health. One way organisations can do this is by using Work PositiveCI (WPCI). This is an online, free, confidential, psychosocial risk management process. On completion of a WPCI survey it provides feedback on workplace stress, employee psychological wellbeing and critical incident exposure in the workplace. It also delivers structured guidance enabling organisations to develop an action plan to mitigate against any identified stressors.

Employee Involvement and Communication:

ISO 45003 encourages organisations to involve employees in the development and implementation of mental health initiatives. This approach ensures that the diverse needs of the workforce are considered, and it promotes open communication.

Training and Awareness:

The standard recommends training programs to raise awareness about mental health issues. Educating employees helps reduce stigma and provides the necessary tools to recognise, address, and support individuals facing any challenges. 

Workplace Design and Job Organization:

Through thoughtful design and organisation of tasks, roles, and responsibilities, employers can create a work environment that promotes wellbeing, reduces stressors, and enhances overall job satisfaction.

Monitoring and Evaluation:

The standard emphasises the need for ongoing monitoring and evaluation of mental health initiatives. One way of completing this can be repeating WPCI approximately 12-18 months after the initial survey. This timeframe provides the opportunity for action plans to be implemented and for improvements to be made if required.

In summary, ISO 45003 provides a systematic and comprehensive approach for organisations to address mental health in the workplace. By incorporating the standard employers can help create a healthier work environment, identify and manage psychosocial risks, and promote a culture of wellbeing that ultimately benefits the mental health of their employees.



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ISO 45003:2021 – Occupational health and safety management — Psychological health and safety at work — Guidelines for managing psychosocial risks

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