Almost half of people in Great Britain reported a 'high' rating of anxiety at the beginning of lockdown, as opposed to only 21% at the end of 2019, with feelings of happiness and life satisfaction reported as significantly lower than before the coronavirus outbreak, with the most common concerns being work, well-being and finances.
The symptoms of anxiety are clearly more pervasive now. Employers will to need to formulate plans and processes for both identifying mental health issues and ensuring staff wellbeing, to avoid adding another pressure on an already difficult working environment. Although mental health and wellbeing may be seen as yet another employer responsibility, created by coronavirus and a suffering economy, employers have an existing “duty of care” to their employees. This duty requires employers to take reasonable measures to support employees’ health, safety, and wellbeing.
However, a study by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health showed that only 31% of managers feel they are sufficiently trained to recognise the signs of mental ill-health, and 57% said their organisations offered no mental health and wellbeing support or training for managers. Below are some suggestions as to how employers can better engage in employee wellbeing:
Successfully managing mental health and wellbeing issues has many knock-on positive effects. Higher levels of employee wellbeing are known to lead to improvements in employee engagement, productivity, organisational culture and absenteeism. Poor mental health on the other hand can be costly; calculations have shown that the economy lost roughly £25 billion due to mental health related absences last year. Unless managed carefully over the coming months, the cost this year could be even higher.
Should your organisation’s management benefit from mental health and wellbeing training, contact our employment law team. We are able to offer bespoke training, specific to your organisation’s needs.
*The Office for National Statistics