Business mentor and angel investor Mark Lyttleton understands all too well the many challenges involved in building, operating and scaling a business and is a proponent for working smarter rather than harder to achieve a healthy work-life balance. This article will look at workplace mental health, exploring the reasons why it is so important for employers to put in place frameworks to support employees, promote their wellbeing and help them to achieve a healthy and sustainable balance between their professional and personal lives.
Research from The Executive Development Network highlights the importance of having a progressive company culture and taking a proactive stance when it comes to the mental health and wellbeing of employees. In the study, 85.8% of employees polled agreed that they would be more inclined to leave a company where there was no obvious support for employee wellbeing. In addition, 45.3% of employees agreed that mental health first aid would enhance their benefits package. The study also revealed that 83.3% of employees were more inclined to work for an organisation with a progressive company culture.
The research from The Executive Development Network shows that UK employers who invest and prioritise the wellbeing of their workers are more likely to retain staff for longer. The result of a nationwide consultation with employees and employers across a range of industries, the study highlighted the legacy left by COVID-19, signalling the need for employers to focus on the wellbeing of workforces.
With many businesses restructuring their operations to allow for more remote working, the onus is on employers to seek out innovative new ways to invest in company culture and employee wellbeing. Forward-looking companies are striving to provide tangible support for employees, from flexible working allowances and attention to mental health to neurodiversity considerations and more.
As a result, employee and job candidate expectations for an enhanced benefits package has grown, with 69.1% of employees keen to see the businesses they work for implement measures conducive to achieving a positive work-life balance. Meanwhile, 45.3% of respondents cited workplace first aid for mental health as a priority.
Jill Whitakker is the managing director of The Executive Development Network. She indicates that employees around the country are focused on the benefits associated with working for an employer who is invested in their wellbeing. This is particularly the case with those who have less face-to-face contact with their peers and employers. Today, more 59.3% of UK companies would consider providing first aid training for mental health for employees, while 61.7% are interested in providing training to help staff achieve a positive work-life balance.
When asked what more their existing employers could do to enhance their benefits package, respondents suggested training in a range of different topics, including diversity and inclusion of ethnic minorities in the workplace (19.8%), understanding the impact of the menopause (19.4%) and LGBTQ+ inclusion (17.6%).
Mental health fist aid helps colleagues to spot signs of common mental health problems, enabling co-workers to provide non-judgemental support and reassurance and helping an individual suffering a mental health issue to access professional support. Businesses have a duty to not only keep their workers safe from physical harm but also conduct safety risk assessments and take steps to protect their mental health.
Measures increasingly being implemented by employers today include training Mental Health First Aiders and ensuring there is adequate cover in place across workplace sites. In addition, it is also important for employers to encourage all employees to maintain a healthy working environment by providing mental health awareness training and other resources.
It is crucial for businesses to invest in creating and communicating a mental health wellbeing policy. Despite this, according to research from St John Ambulance, a staggering 80% of employees polled were not sure whether their employer had a mental health wellbeing policy. An organisation that neglects to respond appropriately to an employee experiencing a mental health issue fails in its duty to protect its employees’ safety and as a result may leave itself open to a claim.
Poor mental health has a huge impact on businesses across the UK and beyond, with mental health problems costing businesses up to £8 billion annually in the UK alone according to research from the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health.
Staging a mental health first aid course helps businesses to raise awareness of mental illnesses, encouraging early intervention and aiding recovery. In addition, providing workplace training in mental health first aid instils confidence in employees when it comes to dealing with mental illness, as well as reducing the stigma that surrounds mental health issues.
By becoming more aware and informed, managers and employees are better equipped to spot the early symptoms and signs of mental health problems, enabling them to provide the right support. It is therefore crucial for employers to create a progressive corporate culture, promoting open communication and operating with realistic expectations to create an environment where employees thrive rather than just survive.