Every year an astounding 70 million workdays are lost due to employees facing mental health challenges, costing their employers approximately £2.4 billion.
Mental health in the workplace should not purely be a discussion about the negative financial impact though.
Evidence shows that work is beneficial to health and wellbeing, giving individuals a stronger sense of self-esteem, purpose and identity.
It is also well documented that having a happy and healthy workforce can lead to increased productivity and longevity of service.
A business’s greatest assets are arguably it’s people. They define the brand and the perception of a company in the community.
Look after a workforce and they will look after your business…
The impact of coronavirus
At the height of lockdown, almost half of the UK’s workforce said they were working from home.
Millions couldn’t work from home though.
Keyworkers continued to leave their homes for our hospitals, supermarkets, care homes, schools, train stations, warehouses and many other establishments in a bid to keep Britain moving.
An increase in working hours, often underpinned by concerns of hygiene and childcare, has understandably put a strain on the wellbeing of our keyworkers.
Many who fought the covid-19 pandemic on the front line are now fighting their own mental health battle.
Those able to work from home faced their own challenges. And they are set to continue with no great exodus back into the office as restrictions have lifted. Indeed, many companies, such as Twitter, are suggesting that they will allow employees to work from home permanently.
No commute providing that home/work separation, no chats around the water cooler and many juggling home schooling with video conferences could have a detrimental impact on mental health.
What businesses can do
Typically, the average adult spends around a third of their waking hours in the workplace.
This gives employers an ideal opportunity to promote a healthy working culture, including having a healthy home/work balance.
Mind, the mental health charity, suggests this leads to healthier minds as sustained pressure to work long hours leads to stress and burnout with productivity, morale and creativity stifled.
Digital platforms are fast becoming a recognised way to help employers enhance the wellbeing of their employees in and out of the workplace.
The Priority Platform which includes a workplace health module has a range of personalised, nationally accredited lifestyle assessments, with individualised pathways for each user.
Recognising that each person is different Priority Digital Health have not taken a ‘one size fits all’ approach. The platform seamlessly integrates with a range of targeted self-care and behaviour change apps, tools and resources, giving employees the right type of care when they need it most.
It is the only digital system which responds, in real-time, to the needs of a community, connecting people with a range of local, non-clinical interventions through nationally accredited, holistic assessments online.
From volunteering opportunities and physical activity classes, to debt advice and employment services, this is more than a ‘directory of services’. It offers employers a complete picture of health and wellbeing support available in their area.
The uncertainty that covid-19 has brought into the workplace has increased stress and anxiety for many, whatever their working environment.
With a renewed focus on protecting the physical safety of employees in new covid-safe environments this must not be at the expense of protecting mental health.
After all, how can employees look after their clients, customers or patients if they are not looking after themselves?
It is time for the actions of employers on mental health to go above just a legal obligation. They must morally want to make a difference in the lives of their employees. By investing in the mental health of staff they are investing in the health of a whole business.
The importance of digital in this is important, now more than ever. Physical isolation doesn’t have to mean social isolation with the power of digital connecting us all for the betterment of mental health.
For more information about mental health in the workplace visit: https://www.who.int/mental_health/in_the_workplace/en/