When people think about wellbeing, they invariably think of mental health. And while wellbeing encompasses more aspects of a person’s life, employers have to prioritise their staff’s mental health. 79% of employees say that coronavirus has negatively impacted their mental health. So now more than ever employers need to consider how they can better support their employees.
Impact of mental health problems at work
Mental health problems are the leading cause of sickness absence in Britain, with one in six people taking time off and 70 million work days lost, costing costs employers around £2.4 billion per year. This CV Library survey found that 89% of workers with mental health problems say that their working life is impacted. And nearly half of the respondents have considered resigning because of the impact of work on their mental health.
Time to Change conducted a poll to understand how comfortable people are discussing mental health in the workplace. They found that 36% were comfortable discussing health matters, 18% to talk about money problems, but only 13% felt that they were able to talk about their mental health.
95% of employees who are struggling with their mental health will give a different reason for taking a sickness absence. It’s important for an employer to understand the true meaning of sickness to provide appropriate support and supervision of staff. The ongoing stigma around mental health means that employers are not getting the full picture and they’re not providing the right level of support.
Invest in mental health initiatives
Investment in better mental health support at work could potentially result in a positive return on investment. Workplace mental health support can reduce sickness absence, presenteeism (employee being present but unproductive) and staff turnover. Creating a healthy environment that prioritises staff wellbeing can improve morale, culture and productivity.
Create a wellness-at-work plan
Train employees to be Mental Health First Aiders and implement mental health days. This tells employees that their mental health is as important as their physical health. Provide training to cope with stress and resilience – this will give your employees the tools to support themselves. Have regular catch ups with your staff to discuss how they feel, especially during the coronavirus lockdown. This can also help employers spot signs of stress or depression earlier.
Employers can also introduce schemes to give access to counselling and therapies to support their staff. These kinds of schemes can be accessed through industry benevolent funds, where available.
Foothold is a charity supporting engineers and their families worldwide. We provide a variety of support and advice to help our community. If you’d like to discuss how Foothold can support your employees, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org