Employees absent from work because of mental health reasons cost UK businesses £25 billion in 2019.
This growing trend, and the psychological impact of the coronavirus outbreak, means the cost for UK businesses is likely to continue to rise.
Given many industries are being unlocked, with radically changed work environments and much anxiety about safety, why is now a crucial time to prioritise the mental wellbeing of employees?
The Current Impact on Businesses
“Any actions taken by employers to address employee wellbeing are welcome, especially as returning to work will be an anxious and unfamiliar time for many”
“FirstCare’s research indicates that mental health-related absence within the UK workforce has risen 21% in the last five years,” explains Ian.
“This trend continued into the start of 2020, with the number of work days lost due to mental health reasons in Q1 2020 increasing by seven percent year on year.”
Using Data to Identify Trends
“Accurately recording absence data enables businesses to implement tailored wellbeing measures to support their employees,” Ian advises. “The emphasis should be on a personalised approach.”
In response to this challenge, Mental Health First Aid campaigns and movements such as Movember and ‘It’s okay not to be okay’ have been introduced into the workplace by many businesses to encourage more honest conversations about men’s mental health.
“The success of these initiatives has meant that mental health absence reports have been steadily rising amongst men, viewed as a positive trend by many as male employees become more comfortable discussing their challenges.”
The Impact of Lockdown
“Lockdown has challenged many people in terms of mental health,” explains Ian.
“The Office of National Statistics recently released data which showed that more than two-thirds of adults in the UK (69%) report feeling somewhat or very worried about the effect COVID-19 is having on their life.”
The most common issues affecting wellbeing are:
- Worry about the future (63%)
- Feeling stressed or anxious (56%)
- Feeling bored (49%)
“Businesses will have to look at the practical measures that can be taken to ensure employees feel able to voice their concerns, while also ensuring their safety and wellbeing more widely,” suggests Ian.
The Value of Early Intervention
“At FirstCare, we work with businesses to introduce a system of early intervention by integrating absence reporting with a nurse-led service,” describes Ian.
“Our clients are empowered to engage with employees and explore their mental health challenges – ultimately allowing for a deeper understanding of the causes and the support required”
Ian Caminsky, CEO of FirstCare
“This enables a timely and targeted response, crucial when you consider that around 60% of workers will leave their job after two mental health-related absences.”
“We work with a local government council, who identified mental health issues as a key driver for staff absence,” Ian continues. “Realising their average length for mental health absence was 45 days, they took proactive steps to reduce this.”
- Training staff to recognise mental health symptoms
- Introducing employee support officers.
“As a result, they reduced days lost to mental health absence by 48% and decreased the length of unplanned leave to 16 days within a year – the equivalent of returning five full-time employees to work.”
“By combining data-led responses with professionally sanctioned health advice on day one, businesses can both reduce the length of absence and reassure employees who feel unable to carry out their role,” Ian enthuses.
“It has been pleasing to see businesses more conscious of the mental health needs of staff during the current crisis.”
“Undoubtedly this awareness will help to support against a longer-term decline in mental health issues in employees, create more productive businesses and ultimately a happier UK workforce,” concludes Ian.