How maintaining employee mental well-being is good for business
Mental health awareness week emphasises the issue of poor employee mental health in a working environment. Additionally, it highlights the beneficial impact on companies that put effort into ensuring their employees maintain mental well-being, proving that they reap significant rewards in terms of greater productivity.
What are mental health problems that exist?
Promoting mental well-being can increase an employee’s resilience to cope with difficulties and enjoy life.
Today, there are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness. Some of the more common disorders are:
• Eating disorders
• Panic disorder
• Obsessive-compulsive disorder
• Personality disorders
• Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
• Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
A number of the above illnesses can be triggered or caused by an employee’s working environment or working circumstance. In today’s western society there are fewer people doing more work and working longer hours.
According to a YouGov survey, three in five employees experience mental health issues because of work and just 11% of people felt able to disclose a mental health issue to their line manager – so what impact does that have on your business and why is it important to maintain employee mental well-being?
Why should businesses care about employee mental well-being?
When employees are mentally healthy they are more likely to fulfil their potential, function well, cope with and enjoy work, as well as make healthy choices in life.
Evidence has shown that mental health and physical health are very closely linked; for example, stress can have a huge impact on the productivity of an employer’s business. Whilst it’s true that stress can help keep employee’s motivated, the problem lies in excessive amounts of stress; this can lead to mental health issues (such as depression and anxiety) which can cause physical, bodily damage such as: chronic joint pain, back pain, gastrointestinal problems, tiredness, sleep disturbances and appetite changes – all of which upsets business success.
By supporting and valuing employees that live with mental health problems with an adoptive mental well-being working environment, a business will notice a significant, positive impact, reducing the problem of people falling out of work, losing income and risking a fall into poverty.
Analysts believe that absence due to a lack of mental well-being costs £8.4 billion each year, plus another £15.1 billion in reduced productivity. Furthermore, £2.4 billion is lost replacing staff who leave work due to mental health illnesses and a recent estimate puts the cost of not maintaining mental well-being in the workplace at £30 billion each year to UK employers.
Maintaining mental well-being is key to businesses thriving and making the most of the skills and talent of their employees. By adopting mental well-being schemes and improving protection of employee mental health, businesses will reap the benefits of staff working well, returning to work successfully as well as retaining and attracting new talent.
The workplace can make a positive contribution to mental wellbeing by creating the right environment, having good management structures and by being positive about the employment of people who have experienced mental health problems.
How can you help?
Working culture and employee relationships are key to both productivity and health at work. Research implies that an ‘anxious organisation’ which can be characterised by repeated changes in demand, resources and working practice can encourage the risk of psychological injury and distress. Though causes of poor mental well-being may be due to an employee’s external circumstances, where the causes are work-related, the right immediate, practical steps should be put in place.
Maintaining mental well-being practices can include:
• Relaxation exercises
• Promoting personal support services
• Designating employee mentors
• Offering meditation classes such as Yoga, Tai Chi and Mindfulness
• Take time out challenges
• Encourage staff to eat lunch away from their desks
• Display mental well-being awareness posters
• Mental health presentations
• Offer social and physical activities
• Offer Emotional intelligence and resilience training
• Psychological support and self-management training
It’s critically important that every manager in a business knows how to recognise, and are trained appropriately to deal with a distressed employee. They must feel confident in opening up a discussion with their staff member and know how to respond.
Furthermore, to attract new talent, an organisation needs to be transparent and proactive in making a great working environment; decisive leadership messages that emphasis the culture of the workplace will propose an open – and supportive – work place aimed being hands-on and systematic in caring for their employees.
Find out more about increasing employee retention.
Learn more about how VHR can help you with business solutions.
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