Over the past few years, the concept of workplace wellness has become quite established. Many employers now consider staff wellbeing a positive investment and provide measures to promote it.
Lots of companies have wellbeing strategies in place, but recent findings from OfficeGenie.co.uk suggest there is still a long way to go. Lilli Hender, OfficeGenie's staff writer, discusses their research.
More support is a must
In our survey of 2,000 office workers, in full or part-time employment and based in the UK, we discovered support for mental health issues is lacking in Britain’s workplaces. We found over half of employees (51%) with mental health issues believe their workplace has inadequate levels of support.
Our findings revealed those with mental health issues are on average twice as unhappy at work as those who state they are without such issues. We also found reports of discrimination in the workplace are more than double from people with mental health issues: 16% say they have faced discrimination, compared to 7% of those without.
Time to talk about initiatives
February’s Time To Talk Day highlighted another key issue we found when looking at mental health in the workplace. Over a third of employees (34%) with mental health issues desire more open discussions when it comes to workplace mental health.
The most popular choice to increase support and awareness, however, was wellness initiatives (45%). Following this, employees selected clearer policies (35%); funding for external support (25%); and regular HR consultations (21%).
Flexible working is another area for improvement. We found nearly half (49%) of workers with mental health issues are unable to work from home but a significant majority of those respondents (82%) believe it would improve their happiness in the workplace.
Advice from Mind
We asked Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, to provide her insight on our research. She said:
“These worrying findings highlight the need for better support for people with mental health problems at work. We are starting to see many employers take the issue of poor mental health at work more seriously, and it’s in their interests to do so. After all, employers who have in place accessible and well-promoted wellbeing initiatives are more likely to report better staff engagement, morale and productivity, as well as decreased sickness absence.
“Under the Equality Act, every employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments for any employee with a disability, including a mental health problem which can impact on an individual’s ability to carry out their role. Adjustments need not be large or expensive – things like offering flexible working hours, changes to hours and location of work, or giving the option to work from home, can all make a huge difference.
"In order to create mentally healthy workplaces, employers need to promote wellbeing for all their staff and take steps to tackle the causes of stress and poor mental health at work, as well as supporting employees experiencing a mental health problem.”
Mind have a range of resources on their website to help businesses set up inclusive and supportive measures. When work is such a large part of our lives, it’s essential that employers provide the support needed, and consider the importance of wellness from a psychological as well as physical perspective.
Lilli Hender writes for OfficeGenie.co.uk. Lilli is passionate about workplace wellbeing, productivity, and employee engagement which is the primary focus of her writing.