Updated: Jan 21
According to a report published by the HSE in November 2020 a staggering 17.9 million working days were lost by UK businesses in 2019/20. This involved around 828,000 workers who took time off due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety.
Anecdotally, it is expected that those figures will be much higher for 2020/21, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, possibly as high as ⅔ of UK workers being affected.
Astonishingly, Peninsula HR estimates that as many as 56% of workers affected by work-related stress, depression and anxiety received no support from their employers.
Now, I think that is bonkers. Here’s why...
The impact of the pandemic
Even if you’ve been in hiding for the whole of this year, you cannot fail to know that 2020 has been totally unforgiving to businesses large and small.
As a result, many businesses and business owners are facing very stark challenges in planning for the future, with a clear focus on survival first. Unsurprisingly, that is having a knock on impact on resource planning and many staff either have, or fear, for the future of their jobs.
Yet in planning for your future and the survival of your business, one of the worst things you can do is neglect the mental wellbeing of those who work for you.
Because, even if you do have to reduce staff numbers, your workforce is likely to be the biggest cost in your business. And if they aren’t fit, well and resilient, guess what?
Your business won’t be either!
Why workplace mental health matters now more than ever
For your business to weather the aftermath of 2020 and survive into 2021 and beyond, it needs financial and resource resilience.
The pandemic has wreaked havoc on people’s personal lives as well as their jobs or businesses. Prolonged stress and uncertainty is a hugely damaging state to exist in and will have a cumulative effect on people’s physical and mental wellbeing.
If you need to pivot your business, break into new markets, reshape your business model, reduce in size…You need the team around you to be showing up as a 10/10 every day.
If they’re experiencing personal stress, depression or anxiety on top of work-related stress, depression or anxiety then it’s highly likely they’ll be showing up as a 5 or 6/10 - or worse!
So it makes sense that, to give your business the very best chances of surviving and thriving - you take care of the wellbeing of your staff!
Spotting the signs
The first step to helping your team is spotting the signs that something might be amiss.
For example, has a previously reliable, prompt member of staff suddenly started rocking up late every day? Have your sick days escalated? When at work, are people in your team lacking focus, missing deadlines or exhibiting unusual emotional traits?
These are just a few early warning signs that some extra help might be in order. Your first step should be to try and open channels of communication with those affected. But beware of people who are ‘fine’ as they may actually be quite the opposite!
If you don’t have a Mental Health First Aider in your business and would like some advice about what to look out for and what to do next, give me a call.
Support the individual, strengthen the business
Helping the people who work in your business to be mentally resilient is a win win.
Firstly, it’s a great thing to do on a human level.
But if your heart and head are in conflict then look at the business case for helping your staff stay well.
Staff who are mentally, physically and emotionally strong will inevitably work harder for your business.
So if money’s tight isn’t it a great (and obvious) investment to take care of your team’s mindset?