​What is the current state of Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace?

Date posted:
Mon 18 May 2020

What is the current state of Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace?

The 2017 Stevenson-Farmer Review found that in addition to the human costs of mental illness, the ‘economic costs to employers, directly to Government and to the economy as a whole are also far greater than we had anticipated’.

The report found that costs to employers of mental health illness is staggering and amounts to a cost per employee of between £1,205 and £1,560 per year – between £33 billion and £42 billion a year (Deloitte 2017). This is made up of:

  • Absenteeism cost: £8 billion
  • Presenteeism cost: £17 billion to £26 billion
  • Staff turnover: £8 billion

That people working in an unfit state (presenteeism) costs more money than absence is a wake-up call for any company which thinks a low rate of staff absence means that mental ill health is not an issue.

Further evidence was contained in the 2018 edition of Health and Wellbeing at work from the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) and Simplyhealth. This annual survey, running for the past 18 years, presented a mixed picture. The number of cases of employees experiencing mental health issues at work is rising. 87 percent of survey respondents also stated that modern technology and working patterns make it harder for staff to ‘switch off’. On the plus side, more companies are getting pro-active on physical and mental wellbeing – 40 percent of companies now have a standalone wellbeing strategy and 55 percent say Mental Wellbeing is on the agenda of senior leaders.

What are Businesses doing to support Mental Wellbeing at work and Why?

Whilst the figures are alarming, it is great to hear that more and more businesses are starting to recognise the importance of the Wellbeing of their workforce. Indeed, of the clients we look after at Sequoia there is a clear directive strategy from the top, and a genuine care for the welfare of their people. Just as Sir Richard eluded to, look after your people and they will look after your business.

Some of the typical propositions they are implementing are Private Healthcare plans with the likes of Bupa and Vitality Health, both of which have excellent Mental Health provisions built into their offerings. With costs averaging as little £15/£20 per employee per month for their strongest schemes, companies are seeing a significant return on their investments in terms of assisting staff when they need it most. Not only is this giving employees pathways to best in market health provisions, evidence clearly shows, such plans act as significant retention and attraction tools for good people. In a world where finding and retaining good people isn’t easy, these marginal gains made by innovative employers is paying dividends.

Return on investment

The Stevenson-Farmer Review was supported by a major research project by Deloitte which included return on investment (ROI). A business making an intervention on mental health can expect an average ROI of £4.20, with the most successful programmes returning £9 of benefit for every £1 spent.

Taking the initiative on supporting Mental Wellbeing at work does not only mitigate the costs of absence and low productivity. Being seen as a leader on Mental Wellbeing will add to a company’s reputation (especially in the competition for talent). More and more shareholders and stakeholders are also including Mental Wellbeing amongst their measures of company performance.

Boosts Productivity

Paul Farmer, the CEO of MIND, a huge advocate of Mental Wellbeing in the workplace – Smart employers know that organisations are only as strong as their people; they depend on having a healthy and productive workforce. Good mental health underpins this. By positively managing and supporting employees’ Mental Wellbeing, employers can ensure that staff perform to their potential – and this allows the business to achieve peak performance. Research shows that FTSE 100 companies that prioritise employee wellbeing outperform the rest of the FTSE 100 by 10 per cent. By supporting staff wellbeing, they reap the benefits through enhanced morale, loyalty, commitment, innovation, productivity and profitability. This mantra is now also being taken on by more and more forward-thinking SMEs.

Good Business Sense

The twin goals of increasing employee engagement and creating a mentally healthy workplace are interdependent. Positively managing mental health underpins good employee engagement and benefits everyone – employees, employers and the bottom line. Engagement is about recognising that employees, if they are to perform at their best, must be respected, involved, heard, well-led and valued. Making changes that have a positive impact on employees’ experiences at work are integral. Approaches such as flexible working, private health provisions, building resilience and staff development contribute to good engagement.

Tune in on Friday to read Part 3 of this post to see how positive mental wellbeing in the workplace can be achieved.

Sequoia Health provide Private Healthcare Plans, Wellbeing Strategies & Protection.

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