24/10/2016 4:06 PM AEDT | Updated 24/10/2016 4:11 PM AEDT

CEO Pay Should Be Tied To Staff Mental Health, Jeff Kennett Says

It's as easy as K-P-I.

Fairfax Media
Jeff Kennett wants business groups to pay more attention to mental health

Mental health as a key performance indicator (KPI)?

It's a future BeyondBlue Chairman Jeff Kennett wants to see for Australian business.

The former Victorian Premier has called for performance bonuses for chief executives to be partially tied to the mental wellbeing of their staff.

Kennett is making the proposal to the Business Council of Australia (BCA) on Monday.

It's no more difficult than profit reports, or any other KPI that wants to be established, but it does put mental health -- the condition of their work force -- as a stop priority.Jeff Kennett

"I want to make sure that rather than members of the BCA and industry leaders just calling for tax cuts, they also put a priority on the mental health of their staff," he told the ABC on Monday.

"So I would have the board establish a KPI for the CEO, in terms of the conditions of the workforce, and I would have the CEO prepare the KPI for their direct reports.

Fairfax Media
BeyondBlue Chairman Jeff Kennett wants employee's Mental Health to be a KPI for CEOs

Kennett said he wants CEOs undergo a mental health check themselves.

"Increasingly I am finding as chairman of BeyondBlue I am getting calls from very senior either board members or CEOs that one of their direct reports has hit a brick wall -- in other words, the pressures on senior managers today seem to be increasing," he said.


Source: BeyondBlue

"They are not seeking help because they are worried about how it's going to affect their employment, however the fact they are not well has a major impact on the well being of that organisation."

He rejected the idea that mental health is too subjective a factor to measure, and said lost productivity cost the economy $10.9 billion a year.

"At a part of Australia's history where we're trying to address family violence, where we're trying to address bullying, where we're trying to address good mental health practices, it is time for industry leaders big and small to give the mental health of their workforce the same priority they would give any other measurable figure," Kennett said.

BCA chief executive Jennifer Westacott told The Australian the issue needed to be taken seriously.

"These things at a kind of bottom line result in unplanned absenteeism, they cost businesses money," she said.

"They're not just feel-good things. These are real economic things. That's why the Business Council is interested and passionate about this."

"I'm certainly open to sitting down with him, and I know companies will be, and saying, 'how do we improve our effort here and what are some of the incentives we would need to have?'"

Kennett's comments come as a new NAB/IPSOS survey showed Australians regard happiness as the topmost measure of success, followed by good family relationships, feeling fit and healthy and being a 'good person.'

The survey showed a difference between what people measure as their own success, and what they think society deems successful.

For example, when asked to rank the most important things society defines as an individual's success, respondents replied being rich was top, followed by owning a house and having a well-paid job.

-- If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondBlue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.

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