Study reveals mixed picture in workplace mental health support

The costs to businesses of failing to support employees with mental health issues have been examined in a body of work carried out with QBE. The findings point to a mixed picture when it comes to understanding the issues and their impact, as well as the best way to address the problem.

The research, carried out by Opinium in an online survey of 502 UK senior decision makers and a public survey of 1,300 employees, found that 40% of the senior decision takers had experienced a loss of business as a result of employees continuing to work while experiencing mental health problems.

It also found that a huge majority (90%) of senior business leaders think mental health problems are a valid reason to take sick leave, while some 70% also said that an employee’s history of mental health problems would influence the level of responsibility or opportunities they were given.

A quarter of the senior executives surveyed admitted their business did not offer any workplace mental health support and 40% said they would prefer employees experiencing mental health problem related to stress, anxiety or depression to continue working rather than taking time off.

The study also found that 17% of employers have failed to deliver products or services due to an employee continuing to work while experiencing mental health problems. 11% have also experienced loss of customers and one in 10 lost business and contracts.

Looking to address some of these issues, the majority of employers surveyed said they had implemented programmes to support mental health in the workplace in the past 12 months, such as flexible working, leave for mental health problems, and mental wellness support, with 62% noting an increase in employees’ productivity.

Senior manager at QBE, Grant Clemence said workplace cultures mean many people are not taking time off when they need it: “Businesses are beginning to recognise the beneficial impact that supporting mental wellness in the workplace can have, and while some employers may see absence as a cost, not allowing employees to take time to recover when they need it could be just as damaging.”

Half of the employees surveyed said they had not taken time off to recover from a mental health problem. An overwhelming majority (94%) said this had taken a toll on their productivity, most commonly as a result of tiredness and fatigue (52%), feeling distracted or unable to focus (41%) and feeling irritable (37%).

Over half of employees said they would feel pressure to come into work if they are experiencing a mental health problem such as stress, anxiety or depression and the same proportion said that taking time off work to rest and recover would improve their productivity on their return.

“Our research showed a continued stigma around discussing and disclosing mental health in the workplace Two thirds of employees who have experienced a mental health problem did not disclose it. In addition to leave or flexible working to help support employees and boost productivity, employers should also consider offering mental wellness programmes,” Clemence added.

    Share Story:

Recent Stories