Why It’s So Important Employers Address Mental Health In The Workplace

In Employee Benefits, Industry News, Mental Health by Stephen Ellis

When Lloyds Banking Group chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio approached his boss, Sir Win Bischoff, in late 2011 to request time off because of a stress-related condition, the chairman found himself in a position that he had not encountered in a career spanning six decades.  

At the time, the situation was rare in the financial services world, an industry where it’s typically difficult to admit imperfection. Add to this the fact that Horta-Osorio had been appointed less than a year earlier and it was nothing short of unprecedented.

Fast forward to today and Horta-Osorio is using his position as Lloyds boss to emphasise the importance of not ignoring mental health issues in the workplace.

Speaking recently to the BBC, Horta-Osorio said firms that ignore mental health issues risk “breaking employees’ lives and families”. He added, “You can’t be at peak performance forever”.

Horta-Osorio’s personal experience of poor mental health sparked him to re-evaluate how Lloyds deals with such issues among its 65,000 strong workforce.

‘More common’ than many businesses think

Senior executives, including Horta-Osorio, completed a mental health awareness programme, while thousands of mental health first aiders were trained across the bank and employees were encouraged to use an online portal that was set up to support staff struggling with mental health issues – both inside and outside of work.

Lloyds also increased their employees’ insurance cover for mental health to make it on a par with physical health.

Horta-Osorio says his personal experience of poor mental health has helped him be more sensitive to such issues, but that execs shouldn’t wait for it to happen to them to realise the importance of addressing mental health in the workplace. “At least one out of three people goes through a mental health problem through their lifetime. So it is actually much more common than you might think,” he said.

Mental health interventions make financial sense for employers

Companies ignoring mental health issues also have a tremendous impact on the UK economy, with a recent report from Deloitte stating that poor mental health costs UK employers up to £45 billion a year. 

Deloitte found that one particularly damaging factor was staff spending unproductive hours at work when sick, instead of taking time off.

However, the same Deloitte report also highlights just how effective and financially rewarding mental health interventions can be for employers. Deloitte says that for every £1 spent by employers on mental health interventions, they can afford £5 back in reduced absence, presenteeism and staff turnover.

Stress and mental health issues are not limited to certain individuals and can strike from junior staff to Chief Executives. It is important that everybody has access to the right support and recognises the indicators that they may have a problem.

Stephen joined Premier Choice in 2006 as a Group Risk consultant and became Head of Group Risk in June 2013. In December 2017, Stephen also took over responsibility for the Protection division within Premier Choice and works to grow this in the same way he has the Group Risk division. Protection is a specialist area and fits well with his experience and expertise in the group risk market.