How Can You Help Improve Your Employee’s Mental Health?
Employee’s mental health is reflected in the way they think, feel and behave. Given how hard it is to quantify, compare and authenticate subjective mental states, the topic of mental health is often swept under the carpet by employers. But let’s take a moment to think about the benefits and effects of dealing with your employee’s mental health in the workplace.
The Scope & Cost Of Employee’s Mental Health
Thankfully, employee’s mental health is becoming a more understood topic. Poor mental health has a massive impact on people’s lives and the lives of those around them. Poor mental health may overtly manifest itself as panic attacks, lack of sleep, difficulty concentrating or low confidence. Still, all the symptoms may lead to a further downward spiral that can quickly get out of control if not addressed carefully. As an employer, doing what you can to improve your employee’s mental health keeps your workforce happy and is in your interest as they will be more productive.
One in four people will experience some form a diagnosable and detrimental mental health condition within their lifetime. Not only will this impact the individuals personal and professional life, but their employer will feel the effects as well. The poor mental health of employees loses UK employers £42 billion per year through Absenteeism, Staff Turnover and Presenteeism.
When an employee’s mental health state means they are off sick, or otherwise absent from the business for reasons purporting to poor mental health, this cost will be counted as Absenteeism. This costs Business’ £8 billion per year in the UK.
If you are a small business owner, you will know the cost of finding and recruiting new staff. Workplaces frequently experience staff turnover for mental health-related reasons. The estimated £8 billion per year lost to Staff Turnover may, in fact, be a conservative estimate of the true amount, as in many cases employees may not be honest about the reason, they feel they need to leave an organisation.
The final and most significant cost to businesses is the value and productivity lost when employees turn up to work while ill. The true value of this cost to business lies somewhere between £17-26 billion per year. Still, I would encourage any readers to look at the Government commissioned Thriving at work – Stevenson/Farmer 2017 review for an in-depth look at how this is calculated.
Your Legal Obligations
Duty of Care
As an employer, you have a duty of care for all your employees. When it comes to your employee’s mental health and physical health, this means that you need to be taking all steps that are reasonably possible, in consideration of your industry and requirements, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your employees. Where potential risk exists, your duty of care may require you to undertake additional risk assessments, provide training to staff, keep on top of staff that are prone to do excessive hours, and more.
As a protected characteristic, you must ensure that you do not discriminate against any employee with a disability. Many employee’s mental health conditions can constitute a disability, for example; Anxiety, Bipolar Disorders, Depression, Dyslexia and more.
Disability for work purposes is defined as:
- A Physical or Mental impairment,
- That must cause a substantial adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day to day activities,
- And must be long term, or reoccurring, usually over 12 months or more.
If you are seen to discriminate directly or indirectly against someone with a disability, including an employee’s mental health, you could be looking at claims made under the Equality act or even unfair and constructive dismissal claims.
Where disabilities and employee’s mental health problems are identified, you will be expected to make reasonable adjustments to the employees’ job to ensure you are allowing for their condition. Examples of common reasonable adjustments that might be made by an employer are:
- Offering flexible hours,
- Longer Breaks,
- Reduced or altered working hours,
- Adjusted workstations
You might want to consider consulting with an occupational health specialist – why not take a look at one of our recent blogs about how they can help.
Find out More
Further to the implications of employee’s mental health in the workplace, and minimum requirements put upon you as an employer, there is a lot more to be said. What causes Mental Health problems? How do we, as employers, prevent things from getting worse? What steps can be put in place to actively improve employee’s mental health? Are there any quick strategies I can put in place to improve things in my business?
For those that want to learn more, I would suggest grabbing a cup of tea and watching our Webinar, which will answer all the above questions and more.