The stigma associated with mental health and the challenges of addressing mental health issues in the workplace cost UK businesses between £33 billion and £42 billion each year, according to an independent, government-commissioned report.
The report, Thriving at work: The Stevenson/Farmer review of mental health and employers, was commissioned by Prime Minister Teresa May in January 2017.
It found the substantial cost to employers nationwide was associated with sickness absence, staff turnover and “presenteeism” – the phenomenon where sick employees still go into work and are less productive than their healthy colleagues.
Approximately 15% (one in seven) of employees have symptoms of an existing mental health condition and some 300,000 workers leave their jobs each year because of it.
In addition to the cost to employers, poor mental health is thought to cost the UK government around £25 billion a year, the report said. This includes the cost of providing benefits, falls in tax revenue and costs to the NHS. In fact, the total cost of poor mental health on the overall economy is estimated to be between £75 billion and £99 billion due to lost output.
The report said the number of people leaving work each year because of mental health issues could be reduced by 33% (from 300,000 to 200,00) if dealt with properly.
Recommendation: Employers need to adopt six mental health core standards
The authors of the report – Paul Farmer, the chief executive of the mental health charity Mind and Lord Stevenson, the former chairman of HBOS – made 40 recommendations for employers, government and regulators designed to help change the mental health landscape in the workplace.
One of their key recommendations was for all employers to adopt six “mental health core standards”:
- Produce, implement and communicate a “mental health at work” plan.
- Develop mental health awareness among employees.
- Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling.
- Provide employees with good working conditions.
- Promote effective people management.
- Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing.
They also challenged large employers and the public sector to go further through external reporting and designated leadership responsibility.
The government has already said that the NHS and Civil Service – two of the country’s largest employers – will implement the recommendations given to them in the report.
The authors concluded: “At a time when there is a national focus on productivity, the inescapable conclusion is that it is massively in the interest of both employers and Government to prioritise and invest far more in improving mental health. The UK can ill-afford the productivity cost of this poor mental health”.
Could your Group Risk Employer Benefits be working better for you, does your business utilise the varied support services on offer to support the mental health and wellbeing of your staff?
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