Recent research by Canada Life has highlighted that only 20% of workers take time off work for stress-related illnesses. This means that 5.8 million UK workers go into work when they’re mentally unwell.
Yet, some firms are beginning to take the lead when it comes to their employee’s mental health, choosing to allow firms to recover costs for medical appointments, and take time off for said appointments that doesn’t impact on annual leave.
Natural HR, a Birmingham-based software business, are one such firm. Speaking to The Guardian, co-Founder Sarah Dowzell, explained how they work to make employees feel comfortable sharing their mental health battles.
She said: “It’s important to ensure employees realise it’s just as acceptable to take time off for mental health as it is to go to the dentist.”
Whilst Kathryn Riley, Managing Director of a London-based recruitment firm, noted that often it’s incumbent on leadership to make their staff feel comfortable enough to open up about mental health battles.
“Great workplace culture comes from the top, so it’s really important that business owners and management teams lead by example and approach health and wellbeing as an essential business expenditure,” she said. “[It’s] not a nice-to-have. [Furthermore] don’t run mental health initiatives alongside poor practices, such as bullying or unsupportive line management.”
With today being #WorldMentalHealthDay, many firms might want to get involved and HR too will be interested in how they can help their staff.
What Charlotte Hamill, Managing Director of social media agency Born Social, believes this means is understanding that a business employs a whole person – and should not just be interested in what they produce.
“You employ the whole person, and that means supporting the whole person, not just their output. Why wouldn’t you want to create a team of people who are thriving rather than just surviving?”
Currently, 15% of the workplace experience workplace mental health problems. A recent sickness report attributes 12.7% of workplace absences to mental health issues.