Mental health is a huge talking point in the world of HR currently, as well as amongst the UK workforce in general. It’s reported by Mind that, as a result of the pandemic, up to 60% of adults noted a decline in their mental health.

As most of us will spend the majority of our week working, it follows that our employers are incredibly well-positioned to support our mental health needs. As a business, then, what are the primary benefits of investing time and money into supporting the mental health needs of employees?

1. It can help staff transition back into the workplace

With COVID restrictions being mostly lifted now, many employers are pushing to get employees back into the workplace. For many, mandatory return to workplace orders have faced significant backlash.

Organisations that are managing to get their staff back in successfully are doing so with a pull approach, rather than a push. That is to say, staff are incentivised to return, rather than forced.

From a mental health perspective, the benefits are clear. Face-to-face interaction can be incredibly positive for individuals, and the social opportunities offered by in-person working eclipse a stuttering Zoom call. Communicating these benefits to your staff is key – hold dedicated socialising breaks in the workplace and give staff the chance to blow off some steam.

If your managers are trained to support the mental health of their team members, a face-to-face discussion or support session can be much more effective than a phone or video call session. Being present with someone can help open up an honest conversation, encourage true vulnerability, and allow managers to express empathy through visual cues that just don’t translate digitally.

2. It can support staff that are working remotely

If your staff are continuing to work remotely or in a hybrid approach, loneliness can pose a big threat to the mental health of your staff. In fact, 30.9% of workers say they struggle with feelings of loneliness and isolation when working remotely. Additionally, 71% of hybrid or remote workers report struggling with work-life balance.

All of this will have a negative effect on the long-term mental wellbeing of staff and will ultimately affect employee productivity.

Investing in support sessions to help staff deal with feelings of isolation, as well as helping them with change and their overall wellbeing compared to the way they used to work can be of huge benefit to the individual. Giving someone the skills to support their own wellbeing when working remotely can help your staff maintain productivity.

Additionally, while it may not be as effective as face-to-face communication, scheduling regular team catch-ups online may help staff to stay connected with their colleagues.

3. It attracts new talent and retains existing talent

According to a recent study by Engage Health Group, 9 out of 10 employees rate health as their top life priority. 1 in 3 employees stated, though, that they feel as though health and wellbeing is not a business priority in their workplace and is not promoted by management.

In the same study, 8 in 10 employees stated that employee benefits influence their loyalty to a company.

If we connect the dots here, it leads to a fairly straightforward conclusion:

  • Employees value their health and wellbeing.
  • A third of UK workers don’t feel like their health and wellbeing is supported by their employer.
  • Workplace benefits make 8 in 10 staff feel more loyalty towards their employer.

Therefore…

  • Offering staff health and wellbeing support satisfies an important need that is not currently being met for many.
  • By offering this support as a benefit, employers would influence staff loyalty in a positive manner, and are likely to attract talent to their workforce.

4. It’s a solid financial investment

According to a 2014 government report, workplaces with ‘very satisfied’ employees showed high productivity, higher quality of output, and higher overall performance. The opposite of this was also found to be true, whereby workplaces with ‘very dissatisfied’ employees had lower financial performance.

A Deloitte report from early 2020 – an update on a previous version from 2017 – demonstrated direct evidence that investing in mental health is actually a profitable endeavour to the tune of £5 gained for every £1 spent. Here’s the direct quote taken from the report:

The results of our updated ROI analysis show a financial case in favour of employers investing in mental health. We now find that on average employers obtain a return of £5 for every £1 (5:2:1) invested, up from £4 for every £1 spent (4.0:1) in our previous report.

Deloitte, 2020

How you spend the money and time is also incredibly important. Having consulted in workplace mental health for over 25 years, our clients have consistently found that investing in manager training around mental health provides the most benefit, yet investing directly in the mental health skills of your employees can also offer a massive boost to mental health in general.

5. It’s the right thing to do

Even if supporting employee mental health came at a net loss to a business in terms of ROI, at New Leaf Health, we firmly believe that investing in employee mental health is simply the right thing to do from an ethical point of view.

The world can be a tough place and can take its toll on us mentally – more than ever over the last few years, it seems. In this sense, supporting other people with their mental health is simply a good and helpful thing to do and, as an employer, you are uniquely positioned to have a large impact on this.

If someone were to cut their finger at work, a first aider would treat it. If a staff member has a chronically bad back, they might be referred for an occupational health assessment or offered treatment through workplace health insurance.

Mental health is just as important as physical health, so why should our approach be any different?