The vast majority of successful business owners and managers recognise the fact that one of a company’s most valuable resources is its staff.
Indeed, our recent Inside The Minds of Business Leaders report found that, rather than red tape or any financial fall-out from Brexit, it was finding and keeping the right talent that presented the biggest challenge for businesses across the region.
More than a third of the London and East Anglian business leaders surveyed listed it as their prime concern, with 60 per cent placing it among their top three challenges.
Having recruited the right talent, keeping employees engaged becomes equally important. One essential way to do this is to focus on the wellbeing of your employees. Why? Because it is no doubt disturbing for any business leader to read that, according to the latest report from mental health charity Mind, almost half (48 per cent) of the 44,000 employees surveyed had experienced poor mental health while working at their current organisation – yet only half of those (10,554) chose to tell their employer about it.
The data was gathered from the 74 organisations that took part in Mind’s latest Workplace Wellbeing Index, a benchmark of best policy and practice which celebrates the work employers are doing to promote and support positive mental health.
And the worrying statistics, which were published to coincide with this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week in May, didn’t end there:
- More than eight in ten people (84 per cent) would continue to go to work when experiencing poor mental health, while only just over half (58 per cent) would go to work when experiencing poor physical health
- Only two fifths (42 per cent) of all employees surveyed felt their manager would be able to spot the signs they were struggling with poor mental health
- A fifth (21 per cent) of all respondents feel that their current workload is unmanageable.
Changing workplace culture
Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, added that 82 per cent of respondents with poor mental health said that the cause of this was either due solely to problems at work, or a combination of problems at work and outside of work.
“As we mark Mental Health Awareness Week, it is worrying to discover that half of employees still don’t feel able to speak out,” said Emma. “Too many people struggling with poor mental health, such as stress, anxiety and depression, still feel they need to stay silent. Reasons include not feeling comfortable disclosing their mental health problem, worrying their employer will think they can’t do their job, and not wanting to be treated differently.
“We know that changing workplace culture takes time to filter through an organisation. Encouragingly, forward-thinking employers, like those organisations taking part in Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index, are taking steps in the right direction and their bespoke reports identify what they are doing well and the areas for improvement.
“Those taking part have shown a real commitment to make mental health a priority. It’s great that so many organisations are asking themselves some challenging questions about how they are supporting their workforce and what they can do to provide a better experience. We need to see more workplaces encouraging open conversations about mental health and championing a more supportive and open environment.
Other key findings from the survey included:
- Overall, only 49 per cent of respondents felt their employer supports their mental health, and only 41 per cent felt their organisation encourages openness and discussions about mental health
- Only one in four employees said they would be likely to talk to their manager if they were experiencing a mental health problem
- While 73 per cent of line managers said they’d feel confident in supporting a member of staff experiencing a mental health problem, only 54 per cent of respondents felt that their line manager supports their mental health.
The impact on SMEs
The survey also found that the focus on addressing workplace mental health and wellbeing was still more lacking in SMEs than larger companies. Of those participating organisations that provided data on how much of their annual operating budget was set aside for workplace wellbeing, large organisations reported allocating an average of 11 per cent, while SMEs set aside less than 0.5 per cent.
Yet stress and other mental health problems are the second biggest cause of sickness absence, accounting for 70 million lost working days every year. Mind argue that, taking into account both this and the fact that staff turnover as a result of employees leaving their jobs due to mental health problems costs £2.4 billion each year, it makes good business sense to set budget aside for supporting employee wellbeing.
Workplace wellbeing is something that we’ve looked at closely within Price Bailey, including focusing on issues such as flexible working, work/life balance and contentment within the workplace. It goes beyond just looking at the very important issue of mental health. Our ultimate aim is to achieve a combination of employee wellbeing – so that staff feel content in a positive, supportive environment – and organisational wellbeing, so that you don’t lose sight of business growth and the wider business strategy. Get the balance right and you can have a successful business with contented and fulfilled staff.
In our work with clients, we often ask them if they have a wellbeing strategy, and whether they have wellbeing identified in their overall business strategy. To find out more about establishing and implementing a wellbeing strategy for your business, and how it can help your long-term business performance, contact Anna Harvey using the form below.
This post was written by Anna Harvey, partner at Price Bailey Legal Services.
We always recommend that you seek advice from a suitably qualified adviser before taking any action. The information in this article only serves as a guide and no responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a result of this material can be accepted by the authors or the firm.