Despite ongoing national and global campaigns focusing on improving mental health and awareness, millions of working days are lost, with the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) highlighting that for the year of 2022/2023, the UK reported the highest level over 15 years.
To put this into context, over 35 million working days were lost in the UK during this time, with 76% being as a result of stress-related reasons. Furthermore, according to the UK Government’s statistics, each employee on average has 15.8 days sick days per year, with further reasons of absence including injury; ill health cases; and musculoskeletal disorders.
Regardless of all the good work that is being undertaken to challenge and remove any stigma on poor mental health, to provide getter support, educate and signpost, statistics are showing mental health cases are on the rise with negative impact to personal lives and business.
Unfortunately, deteriorating mental health and wellbeing are not always easily recognised by others, let along ourselves, even more so during the earlier stages. But ongoing education plays a critical part, and this does not just sit outside the working place. It must come inside the doors.
As a business, there is much to be gained by being fully engaged to encompassing a supportive, enhanced wellbeing environment. After all, healthy, happy workers also bring enormous benefits to the business itself, including higher productivity, engagement and less absence. But do not do this as a ‘tick box’ exercise; employees can see through this. Be authentic, build a culture that safeguards health, be open to learning and educating, and lead by example.
Open up and promote signposting and awareness to proactive and reactive support and activities, making this readily available to all at any time. Share via company intranets, staff boards, emails/communication channels, as well form part of new employee welcome packs and annual review processes.
Companies should also consider reviewing inter-relationships and communication channels, and avenues to understand what helps or hinders productivity, culture and wellbeing. Offer employees opportunities to share feedback without the fear of negative consequences, whether this be through appraisals, surveys, HR meetings plus any informal channels. More companies are also rolling out mental health training to all members of staff, thus helping to raise awareness of what we can do to better help ourselves and others.
The tide on mental health and wellbeing is turning, but there is a long way to go yet.
Let’s begin the year as we mean to go on, with more focus on educating, training, feedback, listening and action. Take the time to measure how your activities impacts individuals and business, review and adjust – and don’t stop, keep the positive momentum going.