Mental Health in the Workplace

So, today is World Mental Health Day and this year’s theme is “Mental Health in the Workplace”. According to Business Matter Magazine, 44% of UK workers say that winter has a negative effect on their mental well-being. And according to the Guardian Newspaper just last week, a new study shows that “63% of managers & business owners put business interests above staff well-being!”

Did you know that anxiety, depression and stress are now the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK and that 3 out of 5 employees have experienced mental health issues in the past year because of work?!

An estimated 70 million working days are lost every year because of mental ill health and, at a cost to the UK economy of £8.4bn, this is not something that we, as employers, should be taking lightly!

What do you need to look out for?

A study has shown the main factors to cause work related stress, depression or anxiety are workload pressures, tight deadlines, too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support.  The most common stress-related warning signs include:-

  • Changes in an employee’s behaviour – somebody may seem irritable, sensitive to criticism, have a loss of confidence or have lost their sense of humour.
  • Repeated errors in an employees work including missing deadlines & forgetting tasks or having problems making decisions & not being able to concentrate.
  • Members of staff working too many hours and not taking a break/holiday.
  • A usually punctual employee starting to arrive for work late.
  • Staff complaining about lack of management support or a gruelling workload

So what can you do as a business to support your employees at work?

According to the Mental Health Foundation, less than half of UK employees said they would feel able to talk openly with their line manger if they were suffering from stress. So if you think somebody might be struggling at work, please don’t ignore it! Act on it straight away and talk to the person who you think might be suffering. Other areas to consider are:

  • Creating a culture of openness and awareness by encouraging people to talk about mental health and improving communication.
  • Encouraging your employees to take regular breaks to reduce stress.
  • Reviewing job descriptions to make sure your expectations of staff are realistic and achievable.
  • Providing support and resources for line managers to help them spot the signs of mental health.
  • Being approachable and available for the times when your employees might just need a quick chat or a bit of advice.

Free online toolkit for all UK businesses!

Business in the Community has partnered with Public Health England to produce a free, online toolkit to help every organisation support the mental health and well-being of its employees. “It will help employers take positive actions to build a culture that champions good mental health and provides a greater understanding of how to help those who need more support.”

Click HERE to download your FREE toolkit!

And remember that good mental health is vital to business performance, because when staff feel happy and well cared for, they are more engaged, more motivated and more loyal.