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How does mental health affect work productivity in Hong Kong?

almost 3 years ago by Mathew Gollop

​This is our second in a series of articles in partnership with StartupCare Hong Kong where we explore the issues surrounding employee health. You can view the first post here.

People have known about the importance of physical health for centuries. The first piece of exercise equipment was invented in 1796, and today, fitness is one of the most profitable industries in the world. However, the influence that mental health has on overall well-being, and therefore productivity, has only more recently become a common issue of concern for employers. Companies are beginning to see it as a responsibility to make sure their employees are both physically and mentally well and to develop a more holistic approach to wellness.

Effects of Mental Ill Health on Work Productivity and Team Morale

An overworked employee who is mentally exhausted is tired and drained and will not be able to produce their best work. A survey conducted by City Mental Health Alliance (CMHA) and Oliver Wyman found that a staggering 65% of employees in Hong Kong believed that the quality of their work and overall productivity had been negatively affected due to struggles with their mental health. It is not only the quality of work that is affected – fatigue and stress result in extreme emotions and, consequently, extreme behaviours. The same survey found 30% of Hong Kong employees have reported issues with anger management and 20% have problems with excessive alcohol consumption to compensate for poor mental health. Of course, these numbers do not include those employees who are unaware that they are suffering from these problems, so it is likely that the real numbers are even larger.

Particularly in a more conservative cultural framework such as Hong Kong, open communication to destigmatise the issue and encourage judgement free dialogue is critical.

Financial Costs of Employees’ Mental Ill Health

Neglecting mental health contributes to a toxic work environment, with issues such as misdirected anger or a general atmosphere of negativity and unhappiness. There is also a significant financial impact. In Hong Kong, employers lose HK$ 45-180 million annually due to sick days caused by poor mental health, and this only accounts for 1% of the total of annual costs to employers that are related to mental ill health.

Influence of Founders’ Attitude to Health

To lead by example, founders and CEOs must also take good care of themselves to keep their companies running smoothly. Company culture is influenced by the behaviour of its leaders, hence, it is important for founders to prioritise mental health within the workplace, starting with themselves. Particularly in a more conservative cultural framework such as Hong Kong, open communication to destigmatise the issue and encourage judgement free dialogue is critical.

With a strong link between physical and mental well-being, we believe that leaders can take care of themselves and their teams by offering health insurance that not only provides traditional coverage, but that also motivates them to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This is why we have partnered with StartupCare Hong Kong who provide tailored employee health benefits solutions for SMEs in Hong Kong. For more information, you can contact them here or email Simon Yuen at

ConnectedGroup works with HR professionals with a progressive view on developing a working environment with a positive focus on mental health. Should you wish to discuss identifying this kind of talent for your organisation or to understand our wider functional coverage and how we can take the stress out of recruitment, visit us here or contact our Managing Director, Mathew Gollop at