Three steps to start having better wellbeing conversations
This month, a Business in the Community report revealed that 61% of UK employees have experienced a mental health issue at work, or where work was a contributing factor. We can expect that this statistic would be replicated in other major developed economies.
Does this surprise you? In some ways it’s shocking and yet, entirely not. Long hours, high pressure environments, and, frequently, the expectations that high achievers place on themselves all contribute to overwhelm. That can lead to depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders. Often, it’s those who appear most successful and competent who can be carrying the hidden burden of illness.
This has a significant impact on business, with poor mental health a cause of absenteeism, lower performance standards, and decline in the quality of teamwork and internal relationships. Many organizations now offer employee assistance programs, to provide confidential support employees in times of challenge. However, the uptake rate of these services is as low as five percent in some industries, which HR leaders attribute to ongoing stigma about mental health. If over half the workforce has experience with mental health challenges, then even accounting for those people who seek help from other sources, the support gap is significant.
The impetus is clear: we need to talk about mental health at work.
Despite acknowledging this need, however, many organizations still hesitate to start conversations about employee wellbeing. We understand. Talking about mental health can be intimidating: it’s normal to worry about saying the wrong thing, or not knowing what to say at all.
In this article, we suggest three ways you can get started with talking about mental health; and, hopefully, create a culture that encourages people to seek support, before they become part of the statistics.