Poor mental health costs UK employers up to £45bn a year

Mental-health-related issues are costing UK employers up to £45bn each year – a rise of 16% since 2016 – according to research from Delotte.

Findings from the report ‘Mental health and employers: the case for refreshing investment’ suggest that much of the increase can be attributed largely to a significant rise in mental-health-related ‘presenteeism’, where employees work when they are not at their most productive.

Mental-health related absenteeism and staff turnover have also contributed to the costs overall.
The analysis describes a complex picture, in which more people with poor mental health are continuing to work when they are not at their most productive, rather than take time off, highlighting leaveism and presenteeism as characteristics of an ‘always-on’ culture, enabled by technology.

The research also looks at how employers can tackle this problem, finding that it pays to support employees’ mental health. On average, for every £1 spent on supporting their people’s mental health, employers get £5 back on their investment in reduced presenteeism, absenteeism and staff turnover.

Deloitte says that it has found some signs of positive changes in workplaces, including greater openness in discussing mental health at work in larger employers in particular and more provision of support overall, but despite this, there appears to be significant room for further improvement.

Rebecca George OBE, Deloitte vice chair and UK public sector leader, said: “As our ways of working evolve, so do expectations of employers about how we should support our people. This analysis shows very clearly that it pays for employers to provide mental health support at work and that early intervention is vital, for those experiencing poor mental health and employers alike.”

The report also highlights recent studies which find higher prevalence of mental health problems among younger people, who are typically the most vulnerable demographic in the workplace to poor mental health. It finds that employers lose the equivalent of 8.3% of the salaries of those aged 18-29 as a result of poor mental health - the highest of any employee age group.

Elizabeth Hampson, Deloitte director and author of the report, said: “Understanding more about the relationship between mental health and work is in all of our interests. Our research finds that, while an increased use of technology can enhance working practices, having the ability to work outside of normal working hours can add to the challenge of maintaining good mental health, and make it hard for some to disconnect from an ‘always-on’ culture.”

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