Aging workers: Work environment as a factor in employee mental health

Wendy A. Coduti, Kristin Tugman, Susanne M. Bruyère, Valerie Malzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In 2014, the health and productivity team of the disability insurance provider, Unum, conducted a mixed methods study that included qualitative interviews with internal mental health disability claims professionals, and external interviews with employers. Quantitative data of 15 employers were analysed to identify descriptive statistics involving mental health short-term disability (STD) claims. Workplace factors were examined to understand best practices among companies, related to mental health STD, to identify work environments that may increase or decrease mental health disabilities. Quantitative data found workers aged 40 to 49 had the highest rates of mental health STD claims and workers aged 50 to 59 had the longest duration of absence. Anxiety and depression were the main reasons for mental health absences from work. Results from the qualitative interviews showed a supportive work culture (i.e., work-life balance, good benefits, successful wellness programs) may lead to higher STD claim rates, demonstrating workers in these environments may feel more comfortable disclosing and seeking help for mental health disabilities. Conclusions from this study indicate that although presenteeism rates for mental health are high and impact employers financially, having higher STD claim rates may be more cost effective than having employees with mental health conditions remain at work instead of filing STD claims, seeking treatment and returning to productive employment. Employee age can impact rate and duration of mental health STD claims, meaning employers should implement workplace practices that support overall mental health of employees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Disability Management
StatePublished - Dec 14 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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