Poor mental health at work costs UK businesses up to £45 billion a year, new research has found, and it’s presenteeism, not absences, that is having the biggest impact.
According to the report from Deloitte and mental health charity Mind, presenteeism – defined as employees turning up for work despite feeling unwell – costs UK employers between £26 billion and £29 billion annually through lost productivity.
In comparison, the costs associated with absences owing to mental ill-health were around four times less at £6.8 billion, while mental health-related staff turnover costs employers £8.6 billion annually.
Since Deloitte’s previous analysis in 2016, the cost of mental ill-health for businesses has increased by approximately 16%.
The problem with presenteeism
Despite the number of sick days taken per employee actually falling between 2008 and 2018 (from 5.3 to 4.4), the amount of time lost due to poor mental health has increased. This suggests employees are spending unproductive hours at work while they are ill instead of taking a sick day.
It is thought that some employees are going to work despite feeling unwell because they fear the consequences or prejudices they may face from unaccepting employers.
Technology has also been cited as one reason why employees experience burnout, with mobile devices and other gadgets enabling individuals to work outside of their normal hours.
Mental health in the public sector
The Deloitte report also reveals how employees working in the public sector are more likely to experience poor mental health, with 81% of people working in schools, the NHS, or the police admitting that they “always or usually” go to work when they should take time off because of their mental health.
This finding supports previous research by the BBC that uncovered a growing trend of NHS mental health staff taking sick leave because of their own mental health issues.
Young people are the most vulnerable
Younger individuals are disproportionately more likely to be affected by poor mental health at work. In fact, poor mental health among younger employees is said to be at “epidemic” levels, highlighting how younger generations are more vulnerable at work.
Sickness, lost productivity and higher staff turnover in younger employees are all factors that are thought to have cost employers about 8% of the average salary for a young person (18 to 29 years old) in 2018. This equates to roughly £1,723 per employee.
Speaking about the findings of the Deloitte report, Rachel Suff, senior employment relations adviser at the CIPD, said: “There’s been important progress on building more mentally healthy organisations, but we need more proactive interventions that help prevent poor mental health in the first place.”
A happy, healthy workforce leads to greater productivity. Employee Benefits such as Health Insurance, Income Protection & Employee Assistance programmes can tackle the need for greater awareness of mental health.
A highly motivated result’s driven individual with a wealth of experience in the Healthcare & Group Risk market. I have established strong relationships with large multinational clients through excellent interpersonal skills. I have advanced listening, negotiating & influencing skills that allow me succeed in a team based environment. I have comprehensive knowledge of the UK Healthcare & Group Risk market. This knowledge has been obtained through the Chartered Insurance Institute & self study.