£Billions lost in staff productivity due to mental health issues

Have you ever stopped to think about how your father or grandfather would view the workplace of today? So many changes have taken place over the past few years that a world where the health and safety of an organisation’s workers are paramount and enshrined in law would be alien to those of just a generation or two ago.

It’s worth noting on World Mental Health Day, that mental health welfare is one arena where attitudes are still out of step with the greater society. As more and more high-profile personalities are speaking out about their own struggles with mental health, we are reaching a turning point in how these issues are perceived, with everyone from royalty to rugby players recounting their personal struggles in public in order to break down barriers and destigmatise mental illness.

Unfortunately, such matters are much less likely to be supported or discussed in the workplace, despite the fact that days lost to mental health issues cost UK employers from £38 – 42 billion a year in lost productivity. The generational change is an important one, with baby boomers much more likely to soldier on in the face of a mental health disorder than younger generations, so as Millenials become the dominant sector in the workplace, they are becoming more vociferous in their demands for better mental health provision from their employers. 

Why bother about employee mental health ?
Mental ill-health is bad for employers, not just the individual. As noted in the report highlighted above, ‘a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development study … found that:

  • 37% of sufferers are more likely to get into conflict with colleagues
  • 57% find it harder to juggle multiple tasks
  • 80% find it difficult to concentrate
  • 62% take longer to do tasks
  • 50% are potentially less patient with customers/clients’

Clearly, as we have often advocated, happy, healthy, engaged employees are more productive, less likely to leave and more likely to be advocates for their organisation in the wider community. It is estimated that ‘wellbeing at work increases productivity by as much as 12%’, so it’s in the employer’s interest to make sure they have a fit-for-purpose mental wellbeing programme in place.

Schoop boosts workplace mental health policies
How do you become a supportive employer and create a workplace where good mental health is promoted and employees are encouraged to talk about their mental wellbeing? Obviously a cultural shift cannot be effected overnight, however Schoop, in conjunction with a sympathetic HR and management team, can enable conversations and begin dismantling taboos. Fear of discrimination and feelings of shame are among the top reasons people give for not telling their colleagues about their mental health problems. Once these barriers are removed, employees feel more comfortable talking about their issues and are more likely to seek help or guidance.

The first step in implementing an effective mental health policy is to start from the top down. If CEO’s and C-suite execs are open about their issues (and they are just as likely as any other employee to suffer from poor mental health), this creates a culture of openness and acceptance. An article in the company newsletter and disseminated via the Schoop News and Engagement feature can feel like a breath of fresh air to those suffering in silence.  

In order to gauge current attitudes, Schoop’s survey feature is invaluable in highlighting where your organisation is getting it right and areas where there is room for improvement. With one in four employees suffering from poor mental health, merely asking the questions demonstrates that there is an interest and desire to listen to those who are currently almost surely unwilling to share their problem with work. Pulse surveys instantly pinpoint areas of concern – as well as areas where policy is working, enabling real-time tracking of wellness programmes.

There are many organisations that can offer help and advice on employee mental wellbeing including Mind, the Mental Health Foundation and the HSE. Together with Schoop, you can transform your workplace into a happier, healthier environment. Click on the link below to find out how.