The Importance of Positive Mental Health in the Workplace
One person in six has mental health problems at work, according to the Office for National Statistics. You read that right - one-sixth of the workforce is suffering right now.
Unaddressed mental health issues cost UK employers up to £30 billion a year in lost productivity, sick pay, and recruitment of new employees.
To stem these losses, employers are advised to build a workplace culture where positive mental health is at the front of everyone’s mind. Besides saving money, improving mental health at work boosts productivity, retention, engagement and overall morale.
Here’s more detail on why businesses need to promote positive mental health - and examples of how our benefits at Astue promote wellbeing with our employees.
Why care about mental health?
When your organisation understands mental health, the benefits begin to stack up. Mentally healthy employees are likely to be more engaged and productive and have better working relationships.
Promoting positive mental health also gives your employees the confidence to disclose their mental health issues. Employees who don’t feel they can talk to their employers are more prone to absenteeism - and to presenteeism, showing up when they’re too ill to work.
Then there’s the question of staff loyalty. When employees feel supported at work, they’re likely to stay longer, or even come back after an extended absence. This substantially increases your retention rate.
Getting a reputation as a company that takes good care of its employees’ mental health will also enhance your attractiveness as an employer - so as well as increasing your retention rate, you’ll also attract more high-quality new hires.
Untreated mental health issues can lead to secondary symptoms such as drug and alcohol addiction - which means if you ignore mental health in your workplace, you risk employees coming into work under the influence.
You also risk trouble with the law. Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, mental illness counts as a disability, so it’s unlawful to discriminate against mentally ill employees. That includes failing to make reasonable adjustments (reasonable adjustments for a mental illness might include flexible hours or teleworking, for example.)
What causes mental health problems at work?
Your employees’ mental health issues may have nothing to do with work - for instance, they may be struggling with relationship issues or a recent bereavement. However, there are several factors in the workplace that cause mental ill health:
Poor relationship with manager/colleagues
Lack of control over workload
Lack of career progression or other opportunities
Unhealthy work/life balance
Poorly defined job roles
Job insecurity/organisational change
Here are some tips to reduce these factors and promote positive mental health:
Assess the risks
The first step to tackling mental health problems at work is one you’re probably familiar with: doing a risk assessment. Identify the factors at your workplace that may be causing mental health problems. Make sure you ask employees for input - they’re probably more aware of where things need to improve. Getting them involved will also give them a sense of ownership.
Educate your employees (and yourself)
Look up some online resources on mental health and its causes. You can find information online on how to identify employees struggling with poor mental health, how to reduce it, and where to find support. Start the conversation about mental health in your workplace, and you’ll find employees start to feel safe enough to open up about their personal experiences.
Studies have proven that physical activity helps fight conditions like depression and anxiety. Try offering subsidised gym memberships, or getting employees involved in a fun run for charity.
Get first aid training
Yes - there’s first aid training for mental health. Take a proactive approach and provide your staff with training to help them identify symptoms of mental ill health and act accordingly. If your team leaders have a mental health first aid certification, they’ll be able to recognise when team members are having problems. You’ll also be helping to break the stigma around mental health.
Other company benefits can also help promote positive mental health:
Here at Astute we also offer other great benefits to our employees to ensure we have a happy and healthy workforce.
A generous 25 days holiday, which increases by one day each year for the first five years of service, ensure our employees can take time out to recharge their batteries. These can also be traded to ensure our employees take the right amount of holiday they need.
A flexible working policy supports our employees in keeping a good work-life balance and allows them to arrange their working hours around such things as gym visits and exercise routines.
And if the worst should happen and an employee should find themselves in need of medical help, we offer Private Health Care to help them get back on their feet, as well as life assurance, to give them peace of mind that their loved ones will be taken care of.
On top of offering great benefits to employees, we also offer other small gestures to our employees to promote a healthy workplace. For example, we offer a free fruit & breakfast club to make sure our employees get a great start to their day and employees even get their birthdays off to celebrate however they want.
By encouraging employees to take care of their mental health, we stand out as an employer who cares about their workers. If you’re interested in a career in recruitment and joining the team here at Astute, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02392 221 600.