Bulletins Mental Health | August 13, 2018

Mental Health in the workplace – August 2018

Mental Health in the workplace

The economic cost of mental illness in the workplace is now well documented. Mental ill health at work is estimated to cost UK employers £26 billion per year, which on average equates to approximately £1,035 per employee.

The problem is not going away. According to a recent survey conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce and Aviva, almost 30% of businesses have seen an increase in the number of staff taking time off for mental health reasons. In part, this increase may reflect growing awareness around mental ill health problems; however, it also indicates that businesses need to do more to tackle the issues and promote positive mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

What is the cost of mental ill-health?

In addition to the cost of sickness absence, employers suffer losses from those who are at work and should not be (presenteeism).  Presenteeism causes problems such as a loss of productivity, damage to relationships between colleagues and clients and potentially serious mistakes.

According to the Stevenson/Farmer report, “Thriving at Work – a review of mental health and employers”, approximately 15% of people at work have symptoms of an existing mental ill health condition. Research carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that 97% of respondents with poor mental health said it affected their performance at work. In total, it is estimated that presenteeism costs UK businesses £15.1 billion per year or £605 per employee.

Businesses may also experience difficulties in retaining staff as a result of mental ill-health in the workplace. It is estimated that UK employers spend £2.4 billion each year in replacing staff who have left their jobs due to mental ill health.

What are the causes?

Mental ill health problems are largely concentrated among people of working age. Excessive workloads, a lack of support, perceptions of job insecurity, relationships at work (bullying/harassment), and difficulties in finding a balance between work and home life have all been identified as common causes of mental ill health in the workplace.

Although research published last week by British Chambers of Commerce and Aviva suggests that we may be making inroads into fighting the stigma associated with mental health, there is still a way to go. Employees are still likely to find it much more difficult to tell their employer about a mental health issue than a physical one.

What can employers do?

ACAS has published Guidance for employers on how to improve mental health in the workplace and fight the stigma around mental ill health. Employers should look to:

  • develop an action plan to change attitudes in the workplace
  • create a mental health policy
  • train senior managers to ensure they champion awareness and fight stigma
  • tackle work-related causes of mental health
  • educate the workforce in the importance of promoting good mental health

It is estimated that by improving and promoting positive mental health within the workplace, employers could potentially save 30% or more of the associated costs of mental illness within an organisation.

According to research carried out by the London School of Economics, every £1 invested in workplace stress prevention results in an estimated saving to society of £2.00 (over 2 years).

What we do

Wedlake Bell offer an innovative training, education and engagement package with separate elements tailored to HR, staff and managers, including the policy documents recommended in the ACAS guidance.

Our training and documentation is provided by employment law specialists who are experienced in dealing with disability, absence management and performance issues and are also certified in Mental Health First Aid.

click here for full details of our mental health training and policy document packages.

Our Charity of the Year

This year, our firm is proud to be supporting The Matthew Elvidge Trust as our charity of the year. The Matthew Elvidge Trust aims to promote the importance of wellbeing and good mental health whilst working to fight the stigma around mental illness. If you would like to find out more information about this fantastic charity, click here.

For further information please contact Emily Matthews.