Have you considered the rewards of investing in your employees’ mental health?

Investing in employee mental health

With the winter months approaching, there is no better time to start thinking about investing in the mental health of your employees. According to a study by Westfield Health, less than half (46%) of employees reported high engagement last winter and 32% reported low morale. If this year follows a similar pattern, poor mental health could be a significant challenge for employers, and so it is vital to have a plan in place.

Managing employee wellbeing is incredibly important. Not only can it improve their contentment, happiness and confidence at work, but it can also have a significant impact on productivity and reduce presenteeism and absenteeism.

Employees are also more likely to feel engaged if any employer invests in their mental health, and are therefore more likely to stay with the business – which is a massive benefit with UK vacancies at a record high and recruitment a real issue for many employers.

With 66% of employees wanting more wellbeing support from their employer, have you thought about the ways you can help your employees?

Failing to manage employee wellbeing doesn’t just come at an emotional cost to the employee – it also comes at a real financial cost to a business. In contrast, those who do invest in mental health benefit from real financial rewards and a much more satisfied workforce.

How?

Let’s look at the numbers

The cost:

  • Poor mental health can have a significant impact on employee productivity, attendance and satisfaction, with recent research from Deloitte showing that poor mental health costs UK employers up to £45 billion a year.
  • 9 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2019/20, according to the Labour Force Survey (LFS).

The returns:

  • Deloitte has reported that those who invest in mental health (on average) return £5 for every £1 spent.
  • A 2019 meta-analysis by LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance found that higher wellbeing is positively correlated with productivity and business profitability.

 

What causes poor mental health at work?

There is a wide range of reasons that an employee may be suffering from poor mental health at work. Some employees may be struggling to manage a pre-existing mental health condition and feel unsupported in doing so by their employer. Some may be struggling with the expectations and demands of their job itself.

According to the Labour Force Survey, the predominant cause of work-related stress, depression or anxiety is workload, in particular tight deadlines, too much work or too much pressure or responsibility. People also mentioned a lack of managerial support, organisational changes at work, violence and role uncertainty (a lack of clarity about their job or uncertainty about what they are meant to do).

The CIPD and Mind identify factors such as lone working, negative relationships, poor communication, and people working long hours and not taking breaks as key triggers for poor mental health at work. With more workers now working flexibly or completely remotely, all of these could become more common.

Early signs of poor mental health can manifest themselves as fatigue, anxiety, indecision, increased smoking or drinking, and a whole host of other physical, psychological and behavioural changes.

 

How can employers improve employee mental health and wellbeing?

First and foremost, from a Health & Safety perspective, work-related mental health issues must be assessed to measure the levels of risk to staff. Where a risk is identified, steps must be taken to remove it or reduce it as far as reasonably practicable. Please contact our expert team for more advice on how to do this – and look out for more content on stress risk assessments released later this month for more advice.

Key steps you can take now:

  1. Introduce regular 1:1s and wellbeing catch ups to help identify any signs of worsening mental health and help find solutions to any existing issues.
  2. Make resources accessible to remind employees how they can access support; whether you have an employee assistance programme, occupational health guidance or Mental Health First Aiders, it should all be easily reachable. Click here to find out more about our employee assistance programmes.
  3. Think about implementing policy‑driven culture change, by allowing more permanent or temporary flexible working arrangements – such as hybrid working – and making it easy for people to ask for help.
  4. Make sure line managers are trained to manage the workloads of team members and set reasonable expectations, taking into account individual working styles.
  5. If any disciplinary processes are taking place, managers must be trained to identify any issues that may be linked to mental health. Please be sure to take advice if that is the case.

 

We’re here to help

Mental health is a huge topic, and it’s not an easy fix in many cases. If you would like help understanding your responsibilities as an employer, what you can do to improve employee wellbeing, and how to influence company culture to make your workplace a safe space for those who are struggling, contact us today.

If you are already a client of ours, please call 0345 844 4848 or contact your usual representative. If you are not already a client of ours, please call 0345 844 1111 to benefit from 24/7 access to expert advice, free resources and much more.

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