Why Employers Should Care About Mental Health In The Workplace

22nd Jul 2022

There is no debate needed that mental health is of huge importance. It's vital for employers to recognise how this can impact performance and overall well-being at work, whilst creating policies and an open culture to create an environment that is free from stigma. We'll be discussing the importance of mental health in the workplace and why it’s so vital for employers to invest in overall mental well-being. 

Data from The Samaritans show that they respond to a call for help every 10 seconds. And, every 90 minutes, someone in the UK or Ireland takes their own life. Additionally, at least 1 in 6 workers experience mental health problems like anxiety and depression, with work being the biggest cause of stress in our lives

Mental health can affect anyone, from the CEO right through to the rest of the organisation. For some individuals, the signs might be obvious, whereas, with others, you might not recognise they could be suffering in silence whilst putting on a front to the rest of the world.

Prioritise an open culture around mental health in the workplace

When focusing on mental health in the workplace, creating an open culture where employees can communicate freely about their struggles without any stigma attached is necessary. Here are some steps companies can take to cultivate this type of environment:

  • Create a mental health policy - highlight what you as a company will do to acknowledge and support employees.
  • Ensure a good work/life blend - flexible working can play a crucial role here. Allow employees to establish a way in which they work best, whether that be flexible hours, remote working or something else. 
  • Introduce mental health training in the workplace - teach managers and working professionals how to spot signs of mental health deterioration and offer initial help to steer a person towards getting further help and support. 
  • Provide access or information to 24/7 support - The Samaritans is a great support for so many people. Companies can also go one step further by investing in mental well-being in the workplace; for example, our partner Oliva is a digital platform that works with companies offering professional and 100% confidential support tailored to each employees needs.

How to support employees with stress

You’ll never eliminate stress from the workplace completely, but there are ways in which companies can help manage this. 

  • Recognise hard work (and stress) - words of encouragement and acknowledgement really do go a long way. 
  • Respect non-working hours - this doesn’t just include annual leave; this includes out-of-hours too (most things can wait). 
  • Offer more time away from work - at Flexa; we offer 45 days’ annual leave; other flexible companies like Cronofy and Paddle also offer additional or unlimited holidays to offer an improved work-life balance.
  • Streamline processes - by having streamlined processes; companies will save significant time in the long run, whilst cutting the time it takes for employees to complete work. 
  • Reduce meetings - 92% of employees consider meetings costly and unproductive, and meetings can be a huge contributor to stress. Across the 76 companies surveyed, it was found that employee productivity was 71% higher when meetings were reduced by 40%.
  • Be realistic with deadlines - no matter how great a person might be at their job, they need the time to complete it. Be realistic and discuss deadlines directly with employees before communicating to clients or others on deliverables. 
  • Provide support - lack of support can make employees feel alone and undervalued and as a result can often result in losing talent.
  • Eliminate blame culture - employees can often feel afraid if they make a mistake; it’s important to remember we're all human and all make mistakes; it's something we all have to go through to learn and progress. 
When promoting workplace well-being, make it clear to employees that it’s not just about reducing stress; it's about personally and professionally thriving.