11 May 2017

57 billion reasons to tackle mental health in the workplace

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week #MHAW17 this week and with health and wellbeing high on the HR agenda, we thought it would be a good time to look into the impact of mental health worries in the workplace on company culture, productivity and commercial success.

Mental health is a real concern for businesses. Last year a massive £57bn was lost by UK companies due to lost productivity stemming from poor mental health. Research from Vitality and Cambridge University found that almost three quarters (73%) of employees in the UK suffer from work-related stress and UK companies lost 23.5 days of productivity per person by pushing staff too hard. This figure jumps to 27 days for the most stressful and inactive industries like logistics, healthcare and transportation, with most of this productivity loss happens in the workplace – time spent worrying at desks takes up 18 days over the year.

 

Research from mental health charity Mind confirms that most workplaces have a culture of fear and silence around mental health, finding:

  • More than one in five people have called in sick to avoid work when asked how workplace stress had affected them
  • 14% have resigned and 42% have considered resigning when asked how workplace stress had affected them
  • 30% of staff disagreed with the statement ‘I would feel able to talk openly with my line manager if I was feeling stressed’

There is good news! What this means is that there’s a great opportunity for employers to takes steps to help manage it.

Plugging the £57bn gap starts with investing in health and wellbeing at work. So what can be done?

Equipping managers and supporting employees

Managers need to be equipped to have conversations with their teams about these issues and feel confident they have support HR. There also needs to be a route for employees to get support if they don’t want to discuss things directly with their manager.

Here are some brands helping combat mental health issues in their companies…

Linking wellbeing with diversity and inclusion

Making mental health a part of their overall wellbeing, diversity and inclusion policy, HSBC focuses on ‘ability not disability’ in its ability network, with several activities including interactive mental health awareness events. More on that in our diversity and inclusion report.


Train ‘mental health champions’

This year Heineken committed to help end mental health stigma in the workplace by signing the Time to Change pledge, supporting its people through any physical or mental illness and has put training in place to make sure all managers are able to identify and support mental health issues. Heineken has trained 30 ‘mental health champions’ across six offices to provide mental health first aid and offer support to colleagues.

Meditation and mindfulness

Meditation has been proven to change how the brain processes information and manages stress, depression, and anxiety, and with the grow of mindfulness apps like Calm and Headspace, brands like Apple, P&G and McKinsey offer meditation programmes for staff.

Workplace yoga

Twitter’s commitment to keep its people mentally and physically strong starts with weekly in-office yoga and pilates classes.


Nutrition ambition
What you eat and drink has a great impact on your overall wellbeing, including your mental health, sleep and physical health. Aviva gives employees access to free, nutritious snacks and each month publishes an infographic with topical healthy eating and hydration information.

 

Occupational therapy

Wales & West Utilities has an in house occupational therapist that specialises in mental health support and is available to all staff. The company holds regular ‘wellbeing weeks‘ to raise awareness of health and wellbeing in the workplace.


What’s next?

It’s clear that for companies to be in a healthy state, their people must be too. Check out our top 5 tips on launching a health and wellbeing strategy here:

https://www.mccannsynergy.com.uk/latest-articles/how-to-launch-a-health-and-wellbeing-strategy

Case Study: Bath RUH.

We helped Bath Royal United Hospital encourage their people to lead healthy and well lives. Our 12-month campaign inspired colleagues to make small, manageable changes and take advantage of the wide range of health and wellbeing initiatives on offer. Read about it here.

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