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Mental Health and Wellbeing – What’s the real story?


Sarah Piddington

BY: Sarah Piddington / 28th Nov

In 2014/15 stress, anxiety and depression resulted in 9.9 million working days lost, at an estimated social and economic cost of £5.2 billion.

Not only are stress and mental health issues damaging to people’s health and wellbeing, but they also impact profitability in many ways, including:

  • Reduced productivity
  • Increased sickness absence
  • Increased staff turnover.

Managing stress and mental health risk factors strengthens your business and protects your workforce.

What is the scale of the problem?

1 in 6 employees are currently experiencing mental health problems. With numbers this high, managing mental health should be a priority for every organisation.

There is an unbreakable link between the wellbeing of an organisation and that of its employees. Psychological wellbeing is highly predictive of long-term physical health. At a fundamental level, wellbeing affects both physical and mental health. The benefits of having a happy, healthy workforce are immense. When an organisation has their Health and Wellbeing right, the results are an increase in profitability. To put this in simple terms, it all starts with Wellbeing.

I’d like to introduce you to the concept of PROFITABILITY THROUGH WELLBEING.

What’s in it for us? How about a return on investment of over 400%?

  • Research indicates spending 80p on health promotion and intervention saves £4 in costs due to absenteeism, temporary staff and presenteeism.
  • Taking positive steps to improve the management of Mental Health and Wellbeing in the workplace should enable employers to save at least 30% of the cost of lost production and staff turnover.

You want further evidence? In a large meta-analysis of over 225 academic studies, employees with positive psychological wellbeing:

  • Have on average 31% higher productivity
  • Their sales are 37% higher
  • Their creativity is 3 times higher.

Louise Aston, Wellbeing Director of ‘Business in the Community’ says:

“All organisations need to take steps to proactively incorporate better management of mental health into the everyday working environment, and it should be the marker of every responsible business to talk openly about mental health. Those that don’t are less productive, less competitive and more prone to absences and turnover – those that do attract the best talent and clients and ensure they are successful for the long term.”

Okay, I’m convinced. What can we do about it?

10 STEPS TO ADDRESSING MENTAL HEALTH & WELLBEING IN THE WORKPLACE:

  1. Implement basic training for your executive leadership team around understanding the impacts of work on mental health and wellbeing.
  2. Conduct line manager Stress and Mental Health awareness training, so managers can recognise the signs and symptoms in themselves and others. This should include training on how to handle sensitive conversations around Mental Health.
  3. Appoint a senior manager to act as a Mental Health Champion. This person will be the driving force behind the improvements that will be made.
  4. Establish company-wide Wellbeing frameworks and standards, including the introduction of a Mental Health Working Group.
  5. Ensure that your HR and Wellbeing, Health & Safety teams are working togetherto recognise what negative impacts your organisation is having on people’s Mental Health and Wellbeing.
  6. Ensure that Mental Health is addressed in company policies such as HR, Wellbeing, Health & Safety.
  7. Ensure that preventative measures are in place to prevent Mental Health illnesses e.g. Stress Risk Assessments.
  8. Ensure that all employees know where to go for support or to find information on how your organisation addresses these issues.
  9. Ensure that procedures are in place to support any employee who has had to take time off in relation to stress or mental health, and to support them for a successful return to work.
  10. Provide a good quality support service to staff either in-house or externally e.g. through your organisation’s Employee Assistance Program. If you receive anonymised reports from these services, review them so that you understand how to better support your people.

This list is in no way exhaustive. There are so many more ways you can help to positively impact your people.

If you take one thing away from this article, remember this: If you look after your people, your people will look after your business. Never has this been truer than in cases of stress, wellbeing and mental health. If you don’t support your people, they’ll either be forced to go off sick, or to leave.


Sarah Piddington

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