14 May 2021

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and with 1 in 4 of us experiencing a mental health problem of some kind each year businesses need to play their part in supporting the wellbeing of colleagues.

With 41% of people experiencing mental health symptoms due to work, the challenge cannot be ignored. Businesses have a duty of care to promote the importance of better mental health. Also, happy, engaged employees are productive ones so staff will benefit, and business performance will be improved.

70 million work days are lost each year due to mental health problems The Mental Health Foundation

Investing in mental health 

Mental health problems go beyond the financial yet calculating the costs versus the benefits of intervention can be persuasive when making the case for investment.

  • Poor mental health is costing UK employers £45 billion a year.
  • £29 billion of this is from presenteeism - employees coming to work and underperforming because they are in poor mental health.
  • A Deloitte study found that for every £1 spent on intervention an estimated return of £5 could be expected.
  • Mental‑health related staff turnover costs firms £8.6bn in the time taken to find and train a new employee to work to a level of full productivity.


The 4 ways to promote better mental health in your workplace


1. Early Intervention.

Being able to identify, support and address mental health problems early can reduce the likelihood of more serious problems developing in the long-term.

  • Appoint Mental Health champions or first aiders. Whilst 58% of line managers understand that providing emotional support is part of their role, only 13% of them have had any mental health training.
  • Staff training is a great first step - having “someone to open up to” and signpost colleagues to other support tools available.

2. Establish new working patterns post Covid-19

Whether working remotely or on-site, employers should promote a good balance of structure and flexibility for employees within their working hours.

  • Employees have enjoyed greater flexibility during the pandemic which has enabled them to do things such as attending exercise classes, or taking their children to school. While retaining core hours may be necessary for certain roles, we advise employers to promote flexibility where possible.


3. Open and honest conversations

Open and honest communication in the workplace is key to achieving a healthy mental health environment.

  • Provide support tools to employees, such as 24/7 employee assistance plans, health cash plans and occupational health services.
  • Promoting Mental Health milestones throughout the year to help break stigmas and amplify the message that “it’s ok not to be ok” encouraging individuals to seek support if they require it.


4. Encourage exercise and get out into nature!

This year’s theme for mental health awareness week is ‘nature’, and the incredible impact it can have on improving mental health and wellbeing.

  • Encourage colleagues to exercise, ideally outside because walking or running outdoors may help to prevent or reduce feelings of anger, tiredness, and sadness. The Mental Health Foundation has released a range of ideas and tips, including trying new routes that bring you closer to green spaces or water. 
  • A simple way to boost employee health is by offering a cycle to work scheme. The removal of a price cap and health and wellbeing benefits has accelerated demand over the past year. The benefit will also save you and your employees money through NI savings.


What next?

Contact our Employee Benefits team here to discover how we can help your business develop a health and wellbeing strategy.

Verlingue Employee Benefits