By now, you will likely have heard how health and well-being in the workplace is becoming just as important, if not more so, than salary or career progression. One issue that certainly appears to have become more prominent is mental health in the workplace. A detailed insight into this issue has been taken by the CIPD, with surveys in 2011 and one taken more recently this year.
What important information did these surveys bring to the forefront and what can employers do to offer more support?
Firstly, the number of mental health cases in the workplace has risen by 5% since 2011, with the figure now reaching 31%. More than 2000 people were polled within this survey and they found that only 46% felt like they were supported “fairly” well. This figure of 46% is an increase on the previous survey back in 2011, which found 37% felt “fairly” supported. Although this is a significant improvement, employers still have a long way to go.
Only 43% of employees decide to disclose their stress or mental health problems to their employer or manager. A figure that makes it abundantly clear that employees do not feel confident enough talking to their employers about their problems related to mental health. What is even more worrying is that this figure is exactly the same in both surveys, envisaging that nothing has changed in the last 5 years. However, out of those that do disclose their problems, 46% felt very well supported, which is an increase of 9% from 2011.
The age-group that appears to experience mental health problems the most (36%) are those that are between 45 and 54 years old, closely followed (35%) by the 25-34 and 35-44 age groups. Thus showing that mental health issues are not differentiated by age. So what causes the mental health problems? It seems that the majority (54%) seem to suffer from a combination of personal life issues and work issues.
So what can an employer do to support an employee with mental health issues?
Ensure that you create an environment that is open, that encourages staff to discuss their challenges and problems. Have a culture of openness that allows you to go beyond a persons work load, instead it delves deeper into their role responsibilities and the opportunities that they would like to see appear.
Know what to do if a mental health problem arises within your workplace, such as where to direct the employees if they require specialist help. Also, educate yourself and staff on various mental health problems, so you can see the triggers but always remember to be sensitive.
The groundwork can be set from the minute a new recruit starts, just by letting them know that if any problem arises, big or small, that they can discuss it.
It doesn’t take much to make an employee feel supported or to create a culture of openness, especially if it means it decreases the chances of mental health problems in the workplace. What would you suggest would make an employee feel more supported?
To discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.
You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.