GUEST BLOG: David Price, group director for Health Assured, a provider of innovative health & wellbeing solutions, discuss the issues surrounding the mental wellbeing of employees and how employers can help.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), one in four people will experience some sort of mental health problem at some point in their life. Mentalhealth.org go on to estimate that within a work setting at least one in six people will experience this problem.
When left unaddressed, mental ill health is said to cost UK employers up to £30 billion every year. This is a result of the lost productivity, increased absences and the cost of recruiting new employees.
In order to reduce some of the costs associated with this, employers are advised to create an office culture where positive mental health is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Although cost is a major factor, promoting positive mental health around the office also increases productivity, engagement, retention and overall morale.
This post is going to go into more detail on the benefits of businesses promoting positive mental health. We’ll also offer some tips on how to do so.
Why mental health
Organisations are urged to better understand mental health not only because it is a common occurrence, but also because mentally healthy employees are likely to be more productive and engaged with the company.
Employees who’re not able to talk to their employers are more likely to call in sick more often. They may even attend work when their too ill to carry out their duties which creates an increase in presenteeism.
There is also the argument for employee loyalty. When staff feel like they’re supported by their employers, they’re likely to stay longer at the company or even return to the company after an extended absence. This drastically reduces your retention rate which is advantageous for your recruitment efforts.
If left unaddressed, mental health issues can cause other secondary symptoms such as drug or alcohol abuse.
Benefits for promoting positive mental health
The main benefit of addressing mental health issues in the workplace is the cost associated with it. These costs stem from a decline in productivity, increase in absence and sick days and from staff leaving the company. Promoting positive mental health also provides your employees with the confidence to disclose mental health issues without fear of repercussions.
Apart from complying with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, other benefits include:
- Reduce staff turnover rate
- Improved productivity
- Reduced absences
- Enhance employer reputation
- Improved working relationships
Causes of ill mental health at work
There are various reasons why an individual might experience ill mental health. It could be anything from relationship or financial issues to bereavement and everything in-between. In relation to the workplace, mental ill health could be caused by any of the following:
- Lack of control over workload.
- Greater demands.
- Poor relationship with manager/colleagues.
- Lack of career progression or other opportunities.
- Unhealthy work/life balance.
- Poorly defined job roles.
- Job insecurity/organisational change.
While businesses may not be able to fully eliminate all causes of mental ill health at work, they can take steps to reduce them.
Tips for promoting positive mental health at work
The first step to tackling work-related mental ill health is to conduct a risk assessment. This is to identify areas within the workplace that may be causing employees to suffer mental ill health. It’s important to involve employees in the identification of these risks. As they’d probably be more aware of areas where the organisation needs to improve. It also presents them with a sense of ownership, as they’re more invested.
Educate yourself and your employee
There are several resources available online for learning about mental health and its causes. You can also find information on identifying employees dealing with mental ill health, how to reduce it and even where to get support. By starting a conversation about mental health employees are more likely to feel comfortable enough to talk about their personal experiences.
Encourage physical exercise
Psychologists suggest physical activity is proven to combat psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression. You can encourage your employees by offering subsidised gym memberships, charity fun runs and more.
Mental health first aid
This takes a proactive approach to dealing with mental health issues in the workplace. It trains your staff to identify symptoms of mental ill health and act accordingly. A mental health first aid certification allows team leaders to recognise when individuals within a team are struggling with their mental health. It also allows them to help someone from self-harming and breaking the stigma surrounding mental health.
Promoting positive mental health in the workplace helps but your business and your employees.
By encouraging workers to looks after their mental health, you’re standing out as an employer that cares about their employees. Consider programmes that encourage an active lifestyle, train managers to recognise mental ill health and encouraging a healthy work/life balance.