The cost of neglecting mental health in high-performance workplaces: are you paying the price?
As Mental Health Awareness Week unfolds, I find myself reflecting on a topic that weighs heavily on my mind, not just during this designated week but throughout the year. The significance of mental health is something I think about often, particularly due to my personal experiences in two demanding professions.
Before venturing into recruitment, I worked as an event planner—a role renowned for its inherent stress and pressure, a job which often features in lists of the top 5 most stressful careers one can have. This unique perspective allows me to deeply understand the challenges individuals face in high-pressure occupations, and how deeply impactful it can be when employees are suffering, but not supported, at work.
Discover the untold truth about the dark consequences of overlooking mental health in the workplace; it has more impact than you might think. This week, consider how your firm addresses the pressures experienced by your staff, particularly in companies that operate in notoriously high-pressure and high-expectation environments.
Why is it important? Well obviously, you want a happy workforce for culture’s sake. But if that’s not enough of a driver, disengaged and disenfranchised employees have a significant impact on productivity and thus, success. Let’s look at the costs of neglecting mental well-being and explore why prioritising it is crucial for our teams and the long-term prosperity of our organisations.
It's time to acknowledge the urgency of this issue and take proactive steps to safeguard our workforce.
The Hidden Costs:
Economic Impact: According to a report on Mental Health and Employers released by Deloitte in 2022, ignoring mental health costs UK employers a staggering £53-56 billion annually, including lost productivity, sick leave, and staff turnover. Let's face the financial reality we can't afford to ignore.
Talent Retention: Startlingly, 86% of UK employees would consider leaving their jobs due to inadequate support for employee wellbeing. Protect your top talent and avoid the skyrocketing costs of recruitment and training by prioritising mental well-being (as much as we value your business, we also prize placing candidates in companies where they will be valued and looked after!)
Legal Obligations: UK employment law mandates employers to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of their workforce, including mental health. Neglecting this duty can have severe legal and reputational consequences, not to mention potential discrimination claims.
Mental Health Stigma: Despite progress, stigma surrounding mental health is still prevalent. By disregarding mental well-being, we perpetuate this silence and hinder individuals from seeking help, worsening the problem. Let's break the cycle.
Prioritising Mental Well-being:
Workplace Policies: Craft and implement robust mental health policies that champion well-being, resilience, and early intervention. It's crucial to disseminate these policies effectively throughout your organisation. Examples could include:
- Mental health check-ins
- Mental health leave policies
- Peer support programmes
- Workload and stress management practices
Training and Support: Provide UK-specific mental health training to managers and employees, empowering them with the tools to support their well-being and that of their colleagues. Encourage open conversations and guide them to available resources. Train managers to:
- Recognise signs of distress
- Promote a culture of support and empathy
- Reduce stigma
Flexible Working: Embrace flexible working practices that accommodate your employees' mental health needs. Promote a healthy work-life balance, reduce stress, and leverage UK legislation that supports flexible arrangements.
Employee Assistance Programs: Extend access to confidential counselling services, helplines, and mental health support networks. Does your health insurance provide mental health coverage? If not, can this be incorporated? These invaluable resources can be lifelines for employees facing mental health challenges.
High-performing, high-expectation companies must confront the high costs of neglecting mental health head-on. Prioritising well-being builds an engaged, resilient, and productive workforce. Let's challenge the stigma, foster open dialogue, and provide the support systems our employees need to thrive.
Investing in mental health isn't just a moral, or legal obligation—it's a strategic advantage for ambitious companies. Together, we can forge healthier, more inclusive work environments that unlock the full potential of our workforce.