Assessing your organisation's approach to mental health, and why it matters – Mental Health At Work
10/09/2018

Assessing your organisation’s approach to mental health, and why it matters

Paul Woodruff
Paul Woodruff

Services & Product Development Manager at Mind

Organisations are beginning to realise that supporting their staff’s mental health is business critical.

Having spent the last decade providing HR and staffing consultancy to organisations across a broad range of sectors and industries, I have seen a huge number of trends relating to ‘effective employee management’ rise and fall. Primary goals for organisations are often productivity improvement, operational efficiency and increased visibility and accountability of staff. These goals are measured using data systems and analytics to aid strategic decision making in order to ultimately improve the bottom line.

Many of these organisations have looked to strengthen their workforce through hiring. They invest heavily in their brand, with the aim of becoming more attractive to perspective employees – an ‘employer of choice’ in an increasingly competitive skills market. Initiatives such as employee rewards schemes, the creation of ‘EVPs’ (that’s an Employee Value Proposition to you and I) and engagement surveys are conducted and scrutinised, hoping to improve engagement or loyalty to aid lowering attrition and staff turnover.

While all these initiatives have merit and can bring positive change for the organisation and, most importantly, the employee, we are now finally starting to see a greater focus on supporting employee workplace mental health and wellbeing. Historically, this was a topic either shied away from by employers – perhaps due to stigma – or has been viewed to have limited scope for return on investment by senior decision makers.

In today’s business, virtually every function is tracked and assessed in order to validate its need for investment. Now mental health also has that tangible support.

This seems almost unfathomable given recent reports into the impact of lost productivity through employees suffering poor mental health. The recent government-backed Stevenson/Farmer Review, ‘Thriving at work’​Thriving at work: the Stevenson / Farmer review of mental health and employers PDF 4 0 An independent review into how employers can better support all employees' mental health, including recommended core standards.Free By: Department for Work and Pensions / Department of Health and Social Care View resource, led by Lord Dennis Stevenson and Mind CEO Paul Farmer CBE, reports that poor mental health cost UK employers between £33billion and £42billion a year through reduced productivity, high turnover and sickness absence. This equates to £1,205-£1,560 for every employee in the UK workforce.

Now however, organisations are not only beginning to recognise the benefits of having a mentally healthy workforce for productivity, brand perception, staff engagement and output, but they are also realising that supporting their staff’s mental health is business critical. The challenge, however, when justifying investment in employees is how to spend to ensure maximum financial return of investment. Assisted by the change in attitudes towards mental health, workplace mental health is on now on the agenda for not only organisations but the Government too. Discussions around implementing mandatory workplace mental health reporting are ongoing and will help to further raise the profile of the issue.

It was business management guru Peter Drucker who was first credited with highlighting ‘what gets measured improves’. In today’s business, virtually every function is tracked and assessed in order to validate its need for investment. Now mental health also has that tangible support.

Now in its third year, Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index allows organisations a clear insight into what they are doing well and what they could be doing better in relation to mental health.

Now in its third year, Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index​Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index Web page 2 0 Mind's Workplace Wellbeing Index is a benchmark of best practice and policy. The Index will highlight what your organisation is doing well and how it could improve in its approach to mental health at work.Paid for By: Mind View resource allows organisations a clear insight into what they are doing well and what they could be doing better in relation to mental health. The Index comprises of two components and evaluating assessment areas, including culture and engagement, people management and wellbeing initiatives. The first component is an Employer Assessment that evaluates policies and initiatives an organisation has in place regarding mental health. The second is a Staff Survey that measures feedback from staff on such initiatives. It benchmarks them against other participating organisations and provides action plans and recommendations in reports to be shared with senior stakeholders and staff alike.

The value of having qualitative and quantitative data to support decision making means the implementation of workplace wellbeing strategies and future investment can be driven by having clear and honest insights. Decisions based on fact. Decisions that improve the wellbeing of staff and by doing so address issues such as low engagement and productivity, as well as high staff turnover.

Marie Curie was quoted to have said ‘You cannot hope to improve a better world without improving individuals.’ It feels like employers are really starting to embrace this.