Firms must tackle problem which costs more than £6 billion a year, says regional accountancy firm.
84% of employers claim to be more aware of employee mental health issues than five years ago – yet fewer than one in five are offering initiatives such as counselling or stress awareness training in the workplace.
That is the finding of a major new survey into employee wellbeing in the workplace by leading regional chartered accountants, business advisers and financial planners Lovewell Blake.
The research also found that over a quarter of employers don’t know where to turn for advice and support on staff mental health issues, while health problems and money worries were identified as the main causes of employee mental health issues – ahead of work-related issues such as job pressure and high workload.
The online survey sought to find out how attitudes to staff mental health had changed over recent years, as well as to gauge what measures employers are taking to tackle the growing issue.
The main findings of the survey were:
- 84% of employers claim they are more aware of employee mental health issues compared with five years ago, with 61% saying they were ‘much more aware’
- Health problems (56%) and money worries (49%) were cited as the main causes of employee mental health issues, ahead of ‘being under pressure in the role’ (47%) and high workload (42%). Other leading causes cited were marital issues (31%), bereavement (29%) and poor relationships with colleagues (27%).
- 27% of employers said they did not know where to go for advice and support on employee mental health issues. The main sources of advice and support identified were HR departments or consultants (22%), mental health charities or the NHS (both 13%) and the internet (7%).
- Just 19% of employers offer counselling services to their staff, with 17% offering some form of employee assistance programme. Only 12% said they provided stress awareness training. The main wellbeing initiatives identified by respondents were a staff rest room (65%), flexible working hours (45%) and medical insurance.
Gemma Chapman, HR manager at Lovewell Blake commented, “On the one hand it is positive that awareness of employee wellbeing and mental health issues has risen, but this study also shows that many employers still have a long way to go in understanding how they can tackle the problem.“It is estimated that more than 10 million working days are lost due to stress and mental health issues in the UK each year, costing employers and the wider economy more than £6 billion. So tackling the problem isn’t just a basic human duty – it makes good business sense as well.”