The UK’s financial recovery has the potential to flatline if supporting employee mental health fails to become a priority for businesses across the UK.
Familiar pressure points felt across industries demonstrate the connection. Absenteeism rates, which continue to rise, currently cost the UK economy £8.4bn per annum. A recent survey among those in full-time employment, conducted by Thrive: Mental Wellbeing found that 12% of employees had taken more than 10 days absence due to mental health reasons in the last year. Along with absenteeism, the effect of presenteeism, reduced productivity and job satisfaction from an employee in work but performing at a lower level due to ill health, is being felt heavily. It’s been estimated that presenteeism from mental health alone costs the UK economy £15.1bn per annum. If these numbers are not addressed and continue to increase, projected timelines for economic recovery will be missed.
Thrive’s research found that 61% of respondents had experienced an episode of mental health difficulty in the last six months. For employers, understanding the bi-directional link between financial and mental health recovery is paramount.
Thrive: Mental Wellbeing Co-Founder and Clinical Psychologist Dr Andres Fonseca says: “One of the most important elements of a wellbeing strategy is making it accessible and impactful for the entire workforce; remote workers, those working ‘in the field’, and those who need support out of hours, all need to be considered. Each organisation needs to learn what works for its employees and what common stressors are putting strain on its workforce. Failing to consider what the total population needs and adapting the strategy can cause little impact, potentially even a step back.”
Just under half of the respondents stated they would like their manager to encourage more of an open conversation about mental health, but a third of employees feel that their managers almost never encourage this.
Dr Kerri Bailey, Research Scientist at Thrive said:
The research shows there is education and support needed for businesses to create working environments where mental health is an open topic, employees feel supported, and businesses benefit. Building a sustainable, confidential structure that is evaluated and updated based on employee needs is vital.”
Financial and mental health recovery must be addressed in the same conversations to avoid a see-saw effect. Chasing financial recovery without addressing and implementing the right support for employees increases the risk of burn-out, anxiety and presenteeism amongst the workforce. Here are Thrives’s five tips to consider when building wellbeing strategies are.
1. Don’t expect total engagement straight away. Employees will need to become familiar with the structure, it can take time but creating an environment where mental health is a regular open and encouraged conversation will increase engagement.
2. Keep it sustainable. Things change, stressors change, your strategy needs to reflect that. If mental health training is offered make sure it’s updated, make it available for as many as possible.
3. Keep it confidential. Concern over job security is often a reason employees hesitate when it comes to asking for help, so it’s important to communicate who employees can turn to for help and how their confidentiality will be respected.
4. Use data to adapt. A good strategy will collect anonymous data directly from their employees that the company can learn from and use to improve and adapt the structure.
5. Invest in your employees. A reliable wellbeing company will be able to provide you with launch, engagement and continued support along with a credible ROI when it comes to mental wellbeing strategies.