Should leadership bonuses be tied to mental health in the workplace?


Beyondblue chairman Jeff Kennett believes so, as he calls for leadership bonuses to be tied to mental health in the workplace.

Mental illness in the workplace present unique challenges that need to be addressed by HR practitioners and business leaders with a specialised set of resources.


Most people will experience an episode of poor mental health in the course of their lives and while in the past it was often stigmatised, today there are a number of resources and strategies available to help us understand and address mental health problems.

Beyondblue chairman Jeff Kennett has recently placed the spotlight on mental health in the workplace drawing attention to the impact it can have on our work.

Clearly, a healthy and happy workplace is a productive workplace. Employers and managers do not only have an ethical responsibility to do their best to ensure the mental well-being of staff, but according to Kennett, it makes good economic sense as well.

Given that staff suffering from a mental disorder are less likely to be working to their full potential, Kennett argues that proper attention to the employee mental health can lift workplace productivity by up to 4%.
He has proposed incentives to compel companies to take the mental well-being of staff seriously, such as having a survey of employee mental health attached to CEO and upper management performance bonuses.

“I’m a great believer that bonuses should only be paid when budgets are met and when the mental health of the staff is in good shape,” he said.

“In other words, I only believe a CEO and direct report should have only five KPIs, the first of which would be the mental health of staff.”

Kennett added that a simple demonstration that employers and managers were seriously interested in the mental well-being would be good for workplace morale.
When a staff member is facing mental health problems, managers and co-workers alike are obliged to treat them with sensitivity, understanding, and respect. Managers need to create an understanding and supportive environment to assist the staff member address their issues. Even approaching a person with a mental illness can be challenging: we may have our own presumptions or prejudices to overcome, or the staff member themselves may be resistant to talk about their problems.

iHR Australia’s Managing Mental Ill-Health in the Workplace programs are designed for current or potential supervisors, managers and HR practitioners looking to gain a better understanding around managing mental ill-health in the workplace.

In these program, iHR’s facilitator and expert Senior Workplace Relations Advisor will guide participants through the key principles of effectively and sensitively managing mental health in the workplace, focusing on relevant legal responsibilities and risk management considerations. Participants will observe our unique Workplace Reality Theatre where the facilitator and actors will re-enact relevant and engaging real-life scenarios for group discussion.

Participants will be instructed in a number of key elements relating to mental health in the workplace, including legal responsibilities of the employer, contributing factors to mental illness, early intervention strategies, and advice for developing a Workplace Mental Health Policy.