HomeWellbeingManaging mental health

Managing mental health

  • 4 Min Read

If one of your business’s employees were to take 10 days off with a mental health-related illness, how would it affect the rest of their team and the business as a whole?

Featured Image

Those of you working for a big organisation might be shrugging right now – safe in the knowledge that one person’s workload could be absorbed across a department in the short-term, with minimal overall impact.

But what if that employee was part of a small team working for an SME?  It could be a very different outcome – one in which the fall-out could be catastrophic.

However, our research has revealed that the companies most at risk if an employee is absent are the least geared up to offer the help and support that might bring that employee back to work sooner, or even prevent them from taking time off in the first place.

Let’s take a look at the facts.

31.5% of all employees – no matter the size of the business – have taken time off work in relation to a mental health condition. Of those, 43.5% have taken more than 10 days off, with a further 18.1% taking between six and 10 days off.

And while mental health issues are very much on the agenda when it comes to corporate policy discussion, business media debate and conference topics, sadly the talk doesn’t appear to be translating into action at an operational level – and if it is, your employees aren’t always aware of it.

More than half of those surveyed said the company they work for either doesn’t have an official mental health policy (27.9%) or they aren’t aware of one (26.1%). When we questioned employees about whether their employer operates a ‘tick-box’ culture when it comes to mental health, a fifth (22.1%) of claimed that mental health is not a major concern to their employers. What’s more 45.6% of employees say they would seek alternative employment if they felt their employer didn’t provide support in relation to mental health conditions.

Those figures are startling enough, but when we drill down a little further it becomes clear that small and medium-sized companies are making themselves even more vulnerable to the effects of mental health-related absence.

Our research found that just 28.6% of employees working for small businesses and 46.3% for medium-sized companies, were aware of their current employer having an official mental health or workplace wellbeing policy. This compares to more than half (54.8%) of employees that work for large organisations.

While we always need to be careful not to jump to conclusions, the statistics seem to point to the fact that the lack of official mental health or wellbeing policies at smaller organisations is having a direct, negative effect on employee absences: 34.7% of people working for small businesses and 37% of those employed by medium-sized enterprises say they have taken time off for a mental health-related illness. This is in stark contrast to the 26.8% of those working for larger organisations who say they have taken time off.

The message is clear. While the temptation for those running SMEs is to focus on the day-to-day business of making a profit, if they don’t take employee mental health seriously, they could be adversely affecting the productivity of their workforce in the long term.

What can you do as a business leader?

But there are simple solutions. Creating a culture of openness in your business so employees feel they can talk to their managers and colleagues about any issues, helping your employees to prioritise their work-life balance, providing training for managers on mental health and wellness issues and creating a solid mental health policy – and making your employees aware of it – are important first steps you can take.

Offering access to a confidential, professional 24/7 helpline is another step that could limit, or even help to prevent a mental health-related absence by aiding communication and stopping life or work issues building up into something more serious.

Taking action now could not only safeguard the mental health of your employees, but your organisation’s profitability and long-term reputation as a good employer.

For more information about the impact of mental health conditions on your business, take a read of Benenden’s Mental Health Report here.

Helen Smith, Commercial Director and business sponsor for wellbeing strategy, Benenden

Was this article helpful?

Subscribe to get your daily business insights

Related Articles

The vital link between self-care and mental health

In our fast-paced lives, many of us will often tend to neglect self-care, which can unwittingly compromise our physical and mental wellbeing. In the...

  • HRD Connect
  • May 16, 2023

How line managers can help identify mental health issues in the workplace

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of mental health in the workplace. Improving mental wellbeing has become the...

  • Elif Oflaz
  • Apr 24, 2023

Mental health awareness training in the digital age

Mental health issues cost the UK economy over £117 billion a year, the equivalent to approximately 5% of GDP. And while we know organisations must...

  • Sarah Haselwood
  • Sep 22, 2022

Data driven mental health training leads to better conversations

As the corporate world takes tentative steps further away from the pandemic, the conversations around the workplace and employee mental health are...

  • Helen Dugdale
  • May 17, 2022

Four HR visionaries on the importance of mental health support teams

In February 2020, four seasoned HR executives found themselves at a unique place in their careers: unemployed. In little time, job opportunities at...

  • Chuck Heaton
  • Nov 2, 2021

Employers encouraged to “destigmatise” domestic abuse, says Paul Scully MP

HR professionals have a “huge and vital” role to play in providing workplace support for victims of domestic abuse but “should not feel the...

  • Aoife Morgan
  • Feb 26, 2021

HRD Thought Leaders on mental health and wellbeing in 2020

In this special end-of-year series, our panel of renowned HR experts and influencers dissect some of the most pressing issues brought to light by the...

  • HRD Connect
  • Dec 17, 2020

Mental health in the modern workplace with David Hanrahan, CHRO, Eventbrite

The mental health discourse is one that has undoubtedly seen an uptick in recent years, with the world at large becoming more conscious of the...

  • HRD Connect
  • Nov 5, 2020

Events

HRD Roundtable: Combating 'Quiet Quitting'…

08 June 2023
  • E-Book
  • May 12, 2023

HRD Network Roundtable: The Retention…

15 June 2023
  • E-Book
  • May 12, 2023

Manage change and drive value…

01 June 2023
  • E-Book
  • May 12, 2023
Sign up to our Newsletter