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Ksenia at The Work Foundation highlights the financial and human costs of ignoring mental health at work.
Sometimes there are days when time seems to drag forever. Just hitting ‘reply’ to any of those piling emails seems like too much effort. That’s what a typical work day feels like for at least one in every six employees.
A growing proportion of Britain’s workforce experience anxiety, depression and stress to the point that they are unable to work. Yet due to the long-standing stigma associated with mental health problems, office blues can seem like an embarrassing and insufficient reason to take a day off.
Few employers are aware that having staff coming to work when they’re ill may cost the workplace more than sending that same employee home. While mental health problems cost a business just over £1,000 per person per year, up to 60% of that accounts for compromised performance.
More costs associated with the increased risk of employees breaking down in tough times, when resilience is needed most. British businesses may be losing £2.4 billion a year in turnover costs due to mental health problems, according to the Centre for Mental Health.
The good news is that proactive employers can take simple steps to increase engagement and job satisfaction in their workforce, while reducing the hidden costs of mental health problems. Sessions like our Emotional resilience in the workplace workshops show employers what they can do to boost the wellbeing of their staff.
One thing employers can't afford to do is to ignore the negative impact of poor mental wellbeing on performance and productivity. Only 3% of businesses have a comprehensive occupational health service specialist; so many more employers could benefit from external experts on mental health, through organisations like The Work Foundation and Mind workplace.
If the only way to monitor wellbeing in your organisation is counting smiley faces in internal emails, this is a warning: employees will not become any happier in stressful workplaces. It is in your interest and in your power to make your staff more competitive and more resilient simply by focussing on what makes every their work day worthwhile.
Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.