February 14, 2019 Time to talk: Mental wellbeing
Make no mistake, mental wellbeing is a business issue. Aside from the duty of care which directors and the executive team owe to their people, mental wellbeing issues can impact customer outcomes and business profitability. So much so that the Stevenson-Farmer Review which reported in October 2017 concluded that poor mental health cost employers in excess of £33b per year.
That report recommended that employers adopt six core standards in respect of employee mental health. These included the production, implementation and communication of a mental health at work plan, encouraging open conversations about mental health issues, and routinely monitoring employee mental wellbeing.
It is fair to say that there is a growing recognition of the importance of tacking action on wellbeing in the workplace. A recent survey by XpertHR revealed that 22% of businesses have a formal wellbeing programme in place whilst a further 54% run informal schemes. Of those with no scheme, 68% plan to introduce one within the next year.
Nevertheless, there is still some way to go before mental health issues are perceived and treated in the same way as physical problems. So much so that research from Canada Life indicates that 22% of those surveyed went into work in 2017 whilst mentally unwell and 15% believed that they wouldn’t be taken seriously by their employer or colleagues if they took time off for a mental illness.
Given these statistics it is hardly surprising therefore that on 7 February 2019, the Institute of Directors (IoD) relaunched their Mental Health & Wellbeing in the Workplace Campaign. The campaign highlights the importance of recognising and acting appropriately in respect of mental health issues. For example, its opening press release commented on the way in which workplace issues can contribute to mental health issues for the majority of business leaders. It has also published fact sheets aimed at helping businesses to better understand mental wellbeing and to measure the mental wellbeing of the organisation.
Commenting on the re-launch of the campaign the Interim Director General of the IoD, Edwin Morgan said “Mental health is an issue that needs to be taken seriously at all levels of business” adding “It’s crucial that smaller firms in particular have access to straightforward information and guidance on what they can do to address mental health in the workplace, for the benefit of staff and leadership alike.”