Why Employers Should Invest In Employee Mental Health in 2022
The past couple of years, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on employee mental health, with 67% of employees feeling more isolated and 56% finding it harder to switch off and feeling burnt out.
Couple that with the annual post-Christmas blues and the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the future of life in the UK with COVID-19, and it’s clear that it’s never been more important for employers to invest in and manage employee mental health.
But what is the real impact of poor mental health on business? What can employers do to tackle the effects of poor mental health on productivity and engagement? And, finally, what are the benefits of providing mental health support for employees?
How can poor mental health negatively affect businesses?
First and foremost, poor mental health doesn’t just take an emotional toll. It also has a very real financial impact on businesses.
One in six people in the UK experience symptoms of poor mental health every single week, with £8bn lost each year due to absences caused by those symptoms. Poor mental health also leads to a reduction in productivity among employees, costing £15bn a year. In total, poor mental health
costs UK employers £45bn every year.
Poor mental health can also lead to:
Less engaged staff
Low levels of energy
Increase in customer complaints
Increased chance of accidents and mistakes
Employees withdrawing from colleagues
What are the early warning signs of a mental health crisis?
Being able to spot the signs of poor mental health can be crucial in helping employers to intervene at the right time and support employee mental health before it has a significant impact on their work life.
Some early warning signs include:
Increased absence or sick leave
Constant tiredness or low energy
Unusual displays of emotion – e.g., frequent irritability, anxiety, or tearfulness
What effect has COVID-19 had on employee mental health?
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a complete upheaval of people’s home and working lives over the past couple of years. This level of change and uncertainty has had a profound impact on mental health, causing:
Loss of income
Increased levels of drinking and drug use
Exacerbation of existing mental health issues
Additionally, working from home and subsequently returning to the office could also have had an impact on your employees. When working from home, 67% of employees felt less connected to their colleagues, and 56% found it harder to switch off.
Then, when returning to the office, many employees felt anxiety around resuming their usual routine, including anxiety about being near other people again, commuting, the increase in social interactions, and more.
How do socioeconomic changes affect employee mental health?
It’s also worth being aware of the impact an employee’s socioeconomic status, and changes to that status, can have on their mental health.
Economic hardships can lead to depression and anxiety, or exacerbate existing conditions. According to the
Mental Health Foundation, people with high income, occupational status and education are less likely to suffer from depression and other psychiatric disorders than people with low socioeconomic status.
Employees suffering from mental illnesses are also more likely to show signs of presenteeism and burnout, largely because they can’t afford to take time off work to recover.
So, raising awareness of support for these issues and considering how you can ease any pressures on employees at work is extremely important.
What are the benefits of offering mental health services to employees?
Research has found that
66% of employees want more wellbeing support from their employer. And Deloitte has reported that those who invest in mental health (on average) return £5 for every £1 spent.
Other benefits include:
Reduced absence levels
Lower recruitment and training costs (as you aren’t back-filling roles)
Higher retention rates
Less grievances/client complaints
Attracting top talent
Improved work environment
This is supported by a
2019 meta-analysis by LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance, which found that higher wellbeing is positively correlated with productivity and business profitability.
Providing mental health support goes beyond just benefits to the business – it’s also an employer’s legal responsibility. Under the
Health & Safety at Work Act, it’s your responsibility to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of your team. Long gone are the days where this only applies to physical health and safety; psychological health and safety is just as important.
Why is it important to educate your entire team on the importance of mental health in the workplace?
Your entire leadership team need to support your drive for a positive mental health culture. When the tone is set from the top down, businesses often see a more successful implementation of a positive mental health culture. This will then lead to more engaged staff and higher productivity levels.
When it comes to mental health at work, your focus should be on prevention rather than cure – which is why a positive mental health culture is so important. When businesses are proactive in their approach to mental health and wellbeing, they often see much more impactful results.
What services can ELAS Occupational Health offer businesses to help support their employees’ mental health?
You may be wondering where to start when it comes to supporting employees with mental health issues.
Mental health has been heavily stigmatised, resulting in the UK adopting a culture where we aren’t too sure what we should do or say when it comes to supporting someone. Thankfully, over the last few years we’ve realised that ignoring mental health issues only makes the situation worse for all involved.
Deciding to help support employees with their mental health is the first step. Your second should be speaking to us, where we can advise you on the best occupational health services for your business and employees.
Introducing occupational health services to your workplace is a fantastic way to demonstrate a proactive approach to mental health. It’s also cost-effective too – a £1 spend in occupational health shows a saving of £1.60 per person. Here at ELAS, we’re here to support organisations in their mental health campaigns and strategy.
Our services include:
If there are concerns that work could be affecting an employee’s health, or a health issue could be affecting an employee’s ability to carry out their job, then a
management referral to occupational health can be made for an assessment, advice and assistance. These can be face-to-face or completed through telephone or video.
A wellbeing clinic consists of a half or full day of our
wellbeing medicals. These include blood pressure testing; height, weight and BMI; urine testing for diabetes and kidney problems; and a Q&A drop-in session.
Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)
Sometimes it’s easier to talk to someone who you don’t know about personal issues. Our EAP helps with this, by providing unlimited instant access to our 24-hour confidential counselling line, real-time online counselling, and an online health & wellbeing portal.
We offer a comprehensive, confidential
counselling service staffed by fully qualified counsellors. Benefits include:
feeling more able to manage their personal response to emotional difficulties
learning coping strategies that will support them in both the short and long term
likely to see reduced sickness absence
increased benefits in their work and home life
Mental Health Awareness training
Our Mental Health Awareness training course provides all delegates with an introduction into mental health so that they can better understand the mental health of themselves and others. Our course also provides useful tools that can be used to enhance and promote mental wellness. This course can be delivered either on-site or through e-learning.
We have also recently updated out Mental Health Awareness e-learning course to include coronavirus.
Mental Health First Aiders
Level 2 First Aid for Mental Health training provides the necessary knowledge and skills to provide mental health support. Upon completion of the course, delegates will become first aiders for mental health. First aiders for mental health are point persons within your business who have been suitably trained to:
identify mental health conditions
provide advice and start conversations
create first aid for mental health action plans
What can businesses do to beat post-Christmas blues within their team?
All of the above measures are great for improving employee mental health throughout the year. But the winter and post-Christmas period can bring their own challenges, so extra measures could be necessary.
According to a
study by Westfield Health, less than half (46%) of employees reported high engagement last winter and 32% reported low morale. If this year follows a similar pattern, poor mental health could be a significant challenge for employers, and so it is vital to have a plan in place.
This could include:
Introducing wellbeing champions
Health promotion days – raising awareness of things like healthy eating or reducing alcohol levels
Wellbeing medicals Company wellbeing challenges – such as step challenges
Encouraging Dry January
For more information on how you can provide effective mental health support for your team, you can contact our Occupational Health team on 08450 50 40 60 , or by filling out the form on this page.