• MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK: Key reasons why mental health needs to be addressed by businesses

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    Andy Dean, Simon Stapleton and Tim Evans, co-founders of Neurotech company Truthsayers, discuss five reasons why the mental wellbeing of employees is such a key concern in the workplace…

    1. Mental health is a corporate responsibility

    It is important for employers to recognise the role they play in managing employee mental health and the benefits for an organisation in doing so. This should be borne from a sense of social purpose, care and responsibility to look after the people that make a business what it is. Employers committed to managing and supporting the mental health and wellbeing of their staff means incorporating social responsibility in a company’s everyday practices and routines. Take care of employees and they’ll take care of your business; this principle is at the heart of creating a happy and healthy workplace, where people are engaged, valued, productive and flourishing. Once this is covered, the bottom line will look after itself. 

    2. Good mental health strengthens productivity

    Savvy leaders know that an organisation is only as strong as its people as companies rely on a healthy and productive workforce to thrive. Good mental health supports this. By recognising the significance of employees’ mental wellbeing, employers can ensure that staff are more engaged and perform to their potential, which enables a business to achieve optimal performance. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that labour productivity decreased for the third consecutive quarter by 0.2% from January to March 2019, compared with the same quarter in the previous year. The good news is that research confirms that companies which positively manage and support employee wellness experience an increase in productivity by as much as 12 per cent. By protecting staff wellness, they are rewarded through engagement, motivation, productivity and profitability.

    3. Mental health positively impacts employee engagement

    The parallel aims of creating a workplace which promotes psychological wellness and maximising employee engagement are interdependent. Protecting mental wellbeing promotes employee engagement and bears influence on a much wider scale – impacting a business, its staff and the bottom line. It is hardly surprising that neglecting the psychological health of employees has an adverse effect; unnoticeable, untreated mental health issues are likely to be damaging to an employee’s ability to perform with many mental health conditions affecting the decision-making capability and ability to work collaboratively, therefore a person’s chances of errors and hindering productivity as a whole.

    4. Mental health issues are becoming increasingly common

    Mental health issues in the workplace are becoming more and more prevalent, and their impact is estimated to cost the UK economy £226 billion, which means that there’s no better time to start recognising the importance of employee wellbeing and the substantial impact it can have on a business. An effective way to approach this is by recognising the needs of a workforce; when employee needs are met, stress within the workplace is minimised, fostering productivity, creativity and collaboration, and a better understanding of and alignment with a company’s vision, objectives and values is achieved, enabling staff to respond with higher levels of productivity, engagement and dedication.

    5. Psychological wellness attracts and retains talent

    If a business wishes to attract, retain and grow dedicated employees, their psychological wellness needs to be paramount in the workplace. Positioning health and well-being at the heart of a business is crucial to an organisation which values the contribution of its employees.

    The Mental Health in the Workplace report confirmed that people experiencing long-term mental health problems were leaving employment at twice the rate of workers that didn’t experience mental issues. Companies failing to provide sufficient mental health support, and employees being unable to access suitable treatment, comes at a cost which cannot be overlooked. Forward-thinking businesses acknowledge the advantages of hiring and maintaining a talented and varied workforce.

    Assessing the solutions

    By establishing the needs of the workforce, a business can identify exactly what is needed to cultivate a workplace which promotes psychological wellbeing. Traditional methods of discovering the needs of staff, such as employee engagement surveys, can exacerbate the issue an individual is experiencing; for example, employees suffering with a mental health problem due to workplace bullying are more likely to hold themselves responsible to negative experiences, rather than other people. Requiring individuals to re-live experiences through conscious responses may therefore intensify anxious feelings, a sense of hopelessness or low self-confidence. It can also lead to false positives where individuals don’t want to admit they have a problem, so the situation just gets unacknowledged and deteriorates. Additionally, traditional engagement surveys are often conducted too infrequently to keep on top of results and solve issues efficiently; they can also be easily manipulated. To get to the bottom of how employees truly feel and establish what is needed to adjust the workplace, organisations need to re-think their employee engagement strategy.