Why mental health in the workplace matters and what employers can do to help

Matt Liggins, director of wellbeing at Liverpool-based charity Health@Work, explains why looking after the mental health of employees is not only the right thing to do but will also boost your business

work, office, stress, anxiety, business
Stress and anxiety in the workplace can have a huge impact on the productivity of a business

 

For businesses, supporting their staff with physical or mental health issues or other sensitive topics it can seem like a daunting task. However, an individual’s personal life can have a massive impact on their professional life and productivity.

In some cases it is the workplace that is the cause of mental health issues, particularly when it comes to stress.

Counting the cost

Mental health is the most common reason for people to take time off work, costing the UK economy up to £100bn a year, so it’s important for businesses to understand that looking after their people can bring business benefits such as reduced sickness rates, reduced staff turnover and improved productivity.

Despite being such an issue for businesses, our recent research found that a significant amount (33%) of employers currently do not currently have anything in place to support the wellbeing of their staff.

This is surprising, given that 93% consider workplace wellbeing to be an important business need and over half (51%) state that they would be likely to invest in workplace wellbeing.

Basic standards

According to a recent report by Deloitte, the UK is leading the way when it comes to supporting staff in the workplace, but we still have a long way to go. While many businesses have initiatives in place, they are often very limited.

Our research revealed that over half (57%) of employers do not meet the basic standards when it comes to supporting their staff with mental health problems.

Health@Work
Matt Liggins, director of wellbeing at Liverpool-based charity Health@Work

 

Critical friend

Often businesses need to introduce external support to act as a critical friend, such as Health@Work’s Workplace Wellbeing Charter, helping to shape how people think about workplace wellbeing, encouraging open conversations about all important aspects of health including stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

Even small things such as introducing mindfulness sessions and exercise can really help employees better cope with the stresses life and work can bring. But managers are the ones that can potentially make the most difference.

Employee wellbeing initiatives are no longer seen as a ‘nice to have’ but essential to a business. Having these initiatives in place can differentiate a business from its competition, improving employee retention as well as attracting the best talent.

To find out more about the Workplace Wellbeing Charter or to start your business’ accreditation process, visit: www.wellbeingcharter.org.uk

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