Mental ill health is a growing problem costing UK industry billions a year in sick pay, turnover and lost productivity. This article discusses what your business can do to solve the problem and why maintaining good staff mental health is vital for business success.

Mental ill health is a major issue in today’s society that has both human and financial costs. The government-commissioned Thriving at Work Report (Farmer and Stevenson, 2017) estimates the cost to UK businesses to be somewhere between £33 billion and £42 billion. That’s £1300 per employee per year due to lost productivity, increased sickness absence and increased staff turnover.

Despite several high-profile public figures ‘coming out’ about their mental health disorders, a stigma still surrounds mental health in the workplace. Only 1 in 10 employees would feel comfortable disclosing a mental health condition to their line manager and only 24% of managers have received any form of mental health training (Business in the Community. Mental Health at Work Report 2017).

The reasons behind mental health stigma are complex, but tackling the issue and investing in the mental health of your staff pays off. When Deloitte (2017) analysed 23 companies that had done exactly this, the results showed a consistently positive return. Deloitte found that for every £1.00 spent on mental health interventions on staff, on average these companies saw a £4.00 return.

This year (2020), Deloitte revisited the business case for workplace mental health. It found that the costs of poor workplace mental health had risen to £45 billion and that one in six of UK workers are now experiencing a mental health problem at any moment in time. That’s the grim news. The positive is that employers that invest in the mental health of their staff can now realise savings of £5.00 for every £1.00 spent.

The financial returns from mental health awareness training include increased productivity and performance, decreased sickness absence and reduced staff turnover. There are also savings in terms of a reduction in time spent covering for sickness absence, which exacerbates demands on remaining staff, and the ongoing retention of experienced members of staff.

As well as the financial benefits, employers also have legal responsibilities to look after the health of their employees. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999) require that risks to both mental and physical health are assessed. One does not take priority over the other. Given the government’s increased focus on mental well-being at work, and our increasingly litigious society, employers risk further financial penalties for not fulfilling their legal obligations.

We know that the workplace can be a force for good. Studies have shown that work can improve the mental health of those suffering with a condition if the environment is supportive. Deloitte’s Mental Health and Employers report suggests that the biggest benefits are achieved when companies put interventions in place at an early stage.

Companies must be careful not to focus too much on the rational arguments for workplace mental health. Sometimes this leads to employers getting wellbeing at work wrong. But it’s crucial to recognise that there are financial returns to be gained from investing in the mental health of your staff. Build this on top of the moral and legal arguments for health and wellbeing for the best chance of long-lasting success.

Delphis offers a range of on-site management mental health workshops delivered and developed by highly educated business managers, academics and teachers. We are all committed to guiding companies along the path to creating healthy, productive and rewarding working environments. It makes a great deal of sense to invest in the mental well-being of your staff. The financial argument is compelling, there are legal obligations in terms of health and safety, and caring for your employees is morally the right thing to do.

Please get in touch to talk to us about how we can help you provide customised mental health training for your organisation that fits your needs.