Shifting Mindsets: Mental Health as the Cornerstone of Workplace Strategies
As we approach World Mental Health Day on October 10th, it's a timely reminder that the well-being of employees should be at the forefront of any workplace strategy. In a world where the lines between work and personal life are becoming increasingly blurred, addressing mental health issues has never been more critical. Join us as we delve into the topic of ‘Mental Health as the Cornerstone of Workplace Strategies’. We'll explore the significance of nurturing mental health within the workplace, and practical steps for creating a more supportive and inclusive work environment.
Approach Employee Health like Customer Satisfaction
Traditionally, employee health has been confined to the realms of HR and benefits management. This approach has often resulted in limited attention from many senior leaders, resulting in a missed opportunity for business growth. Just as companies invested in enhancing customer service to drive success, prioritising employee mental and physical health should become a core concern for senior management and board directors.
The True Costs of Ignoring Mental Health at Work
The true cost of ignoring mental health at work is significant, both for businesses and the economy as a whole.
In the UK alone, mental health problems are estimated to cost businesses £28 billion each year, through lost productivity, absenteeism, and presenteeism (where employees are at work but not performing to their full potential).
According to the Centre for Mental Health, one in six people in the UK experience depression in any given year, and one in three people experience an anxiety disorder. Mental health problems are also the leading cause of long-term sickness absence, accounting for around 37% of all sick days taken.
Mental health problems can have a significant impact on employee performance. Employees who are struggling with their mental health are more likely to be absent from work, and when they are at work, they are less likely to be productive.
A study by the Confederation of British Industry found that employees with mental health problems are 30% less productive than their colleagues.
How to Build a Culture of Health
Creating a culture of health parallels efforts to cultivate cultures of innovation or exceptional customer service. Firstly, measure behavioural and physical health, and hold relevant stakeholders accountable for continuous improvement. Secondly, consider appointing a champion to oversee and coordinate health-related initiatives, mirroring the approach taken with diversity, equity, and inclusion. Lastly, explore the various dimensions of work that impact employee health to develop work arrangements that promote well-being.
The Business Imperative of Employee Wellbeing
Research demonstrates that self-reported health is positively linked to job satisfaction and engagement, while inversely related to absenteeism, stress, and burnout. Beyond economic considerations, it's a matter of moral values that workplaces do not induce stress and depression, endangering the health of individuals in the pursuit of a livelihood.
Changing the Mindset
The shift in mindset regarding employee health must start at the top of UK organisations. CEOs and senior leadership must recognise that a healthy workforce is pivotal to business success. They should afford employee health the same level of importance as financial objectives, investing in strategies that promote mental and physical well-being.
The significance of mental health and well-being in the workplace cannot be overstated. To create a healthier workforce, UK companies must shift their mindset and treat employee health as a strategic priority. By aligning employee health goals with business objectives, reducing stigma, and investing in a culture of health, organisations can not only improve their bottom line but also contribute to the overall well-being of their employees and society as a whole.