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Why do you need a business case?

A strong business case is an important tool that you can use to get leader and stakeholder buy-in when introducing a new mental health and well-being strategy to your organisation.

Gaining leadership and stakeholder support from across the organisation will help you access resources, build employee engagement with initiatives and facilitate your ability to develop a successful mental health and well-being strategy. When it comes time to introduce new well-being activities, it will be critical to have senior leaders on-board who can then advocate for your chosen activities and demonstrate executive support. Senior leaders will also have an awareness of the overall organisational strategy and can help articulate how well-being contributes to your organisation’s vision and goals.

Build your case

Business cases are most successful when they are tailored to the interests of key stakeholders or address organisational outcomes.

Tailor your business case to your audience

The most compelling rationale for supporting mental health at work can vary depending on your organisation’s focus areas and priorities. Different arguments will appeal to different leaders and business areas. Some stakeholders will be motivated by ethical considerations, others by financial, legal, productivity or client satisfaction benefits. Business cases are most successful when they are tailored to the interests of key stakeholders or address desired organisational outcomes. Stakeholders will want to know the specific benefits of your proposed activities relevant to their department and organisation. Fortunately, there are a plethora of benefits to investing in employee well-being, which can be drawn upon to create a strong business case.

When identifying points for inclusion in your business case, your case can be strengthened by linking evidence to your organisation’s priorities, values and key performance indicators (KPIs). Should it be available, you may wish to include your own company specific data and statistics. Below we present some examples of tailored business cases.

Resource

The Australian government Department of Health’s Healthy Workers Portal contains a return on investment calculator. The calculator can estimate a financial return to build into your business case, based on a few key workplace metrics.

Example 1 of a tailored business case: Legal Compliance, External Benchmarking and Reputation

Consider an organisation in which leadership is predominantly concerned with ensuring legal compliance, benchmarking against other organisations and their external reputation. Organisations can achieve these goals when investing in mental health and well-being using the Thrive at Work Framework as a foundation for their actions. In this instance, the following points might support the business case to this leadership team.

  • Gap analyses have shown that many Australian organisations are positioned behind international well-being standards. Developing a mental health and well-being strategy based on the Thrive at Work Framework gives us the opportunity to be national leaders in this area.
  • Health and safety legislation is expected to change imminently, with higher standards and organisational accountability anticipated. Proactively reviewing and revising policies and practices will ensure compliance with forthcoming legislation.
  • Developing a strong mental health and well-being strategy can enable organisations to become employers of choice. Research indicates that a mentally healthy environment is the second most important factor in an employee’s decision to accept a new job.

Example 2 of a tailored business case: Absenteeism & Turnover Concerns

Consider an organisation currently experiencing high absenteeism, or turnover. To make the case for implementing the Thrive at Work initiative the project team might outline the way addressing employee mental health and well-being will address these concerns, such as:

  • We have identified that the average rate of absence in our organisation is increasing. Researchers estimate that a 10% increase in employee well-being will result in 5% fewer unscheduled absences1.(Worksafe, 2011).
  • Results of a Beyondblue survey (run on behalf of Beyond Blue by Instinct and Reason) has indicated turnover is highly influenced by the well-being environment. This research found that that 50% of respondents had left a job due to a poor well-being environment. Conversely, research has shown that a mentally healthy workplace that promotes and protects mental health of employees was the second most powerful inhibitor of leaving a job2.

Add detail to your argument

Qualitative evidence can also help support your objective arguments and build a strong business case. Personal stories and case studies outlining the success of mental health and well-being initiatives can be emotionally impactful and inspire leadership commitment to improving well-being. Personal experiences (used only with permission), can create personal and emotional engagement with the strategy.

Stakeholder engagement with your arguments can be increased with case studies from other organisations that have successfully addressed employee mental health and well-being with positive organisational outcomes. This can demonstrate and make tangible, the viability and validity of your arguments. The Thrive at Work website contains example case studies that you may wish to utilise in your own business case. Extended case studies can also be found on the website. We will continue to grow these, so stay connected. Also, please let us know if you have case studies to share.

References

Resource

We have collated evidence and arguments from a range of empirical studies, industry reports, and policy documents, etc. For more statistics and evidence backed arguments to support your business case, refer to the Thrive at Work business case page.

Next step

Identify a core team and commit resources

Before starting work on your well-being strategy, you will need to establish your Thrive at Work project team.