With total estimates of individuals suffering from work related stress, anxiety or depression (SAD) topping at 828 000[i], and approximately 300 000 people losing their jobs annually due to mental health issues[ii] there is a significant challenge facing the UK today. Considering the scale of this issue, and the impact on the economy, it is sensible that businesses invest in workplace interventions to mitigate the mental health crisis in the UK.
As of the 20219/20 period, SAD accounted for 51% of work-related ill health cases and 55% of working days lost. Figures, from 2 separate studies, reveal a higher percentage of women, in full-time employment, record suffering from mental health pressure opposed to male counterparts[iii]; 89% of the 1200 UK workers polled, stated that mental health problems adversely affected their performance at work.[iv] With a 16% rise, equalling £42-£45 billion collectively, is the amount UK employers lose every year due to mental health. However, employers investing in mental health provide an average return of £5 per every £1 spent.[v]
With these facts in mind, and a dedication to their workforce, many HR professionals work tirelessly to put mental wellness strategies in place. One such professional is Natasha Aujla, the Human Resource Manager at AI Global Media. With a particular interest in this aspect of her role, Natasha commented the following, when asked about her recent efforts, “The average person will spend 90,000 hours at work, so it’s safe to say your job / workplace can have a huge impact on your life. Covid-19 has impacted our lives both internally & externally and as a Company, we value the health & wellbeing of our employee’s. We have recently reviewed elements of our rewards & benefits structure and consciously placed deciding factors around Mental Health. We feel the best way to support our employees with their Mental Health is to provide access to a structured, professional & confidential service to deal with physical and mental health issues, as well as legal and financial difficulties. We are in final stages with an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) provider and look forward to updating our employees on this indispensable wellbeing tool.”
There are actions businesses can take to mitigate the impact mental health has on their workforce. Of course, a business requires a director to recognise the issue and accept the business has a role to play. For example, Kathryn Hall, one of three directors from AI Global Media a B2B publishing SME based in Burton upon Trent was quite forthright when she commented on the state of the mental health crisis and what AI Global Media was doing to assist those suffering, “The pandemic has reminded us of just how important the wellbeing of our team members is. Covid-19 has put a great deal of stress upon us all and, as responsible employers, we understand our part in supporting our employees during this difficult time. We conduct weekly meetings with our management team, using Microsoft Teams and encourage our managers to do the same with their teams; we are in the process of introducing an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to support our workforce, the majority of whom are working from home and we have interactive software solutions in place to maintain good lines of communication throughout. We hope that our team members see us as a conscientious employer and that they feel suitably supported during these difficult times.” The issues surrounding mental health are not going away. There is no quick fix to them, however, there is hope. By creating positive environments, where people can come forward and discuss their issues, allowing employers to take the necessary steps and put measures in place, this issue need not debilitate our workforce and economy indefinitely