Wellbeing / 4 minute read

Why mental health is central to your staff's wellbeing

Written by Katie Perez

27 October 2021

Promoting wellbeing in the workplace has become a cornerstone of modern business practices. Research on productivity has shown that when employee wellbeing is supported by companies, business productivity increases by 12%.

That alone gives businesses a reason to focus on wellbeing, but there is more to it than boosting productivity. Happy employees are a real asset and there is a close connection between happiness and life satisfaction. Too often mental health issues have been overlooked or even ignored, and the current pandemic has put a spotlight on the wellbeing of workers in a way that was previously unprecedented. Understanding mental health is the first step to improving practices company-wide.

What does it look like if someone is struggling with their mental health?

The degree to which different individuals struggle with their mental health varies. There is evidence of different results for male, female, younger and older employees as well as other employee categories. Some 30% of UK workers will have officially been diagnosed with a mental health disorder during their lifetime. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) claims a quarter of these suffer from anxiety and 14% from depression. As remote work is on the rise and workforces are spread across several continents, loneliness is also increasing as an epidemic, affecting one in five people in the UK.

With numbers like these, it seems surprising that it’s not easy to spot colleagues who are dealing with such issues. Shouldn’t a third of the company workforce be visibly feeling poorly if their condition has a distinct effect on profits? The crux of the subject matter is this: No. It is not always easy to recognise when someone is struggling with their mental wellbeing.

So how do you spot mental issues in your colleagues and what can you do, or should you do, to help?

Lending a hand It is generally difficult for most people to speak about their mental health with colleagues or managers at work. Just 49% of men and 53% of women have the courage to raise the subject with colleagues.

Needless to say, company dynamics play a big role in making employees feel happy and accepted. A psychologically safe work environment could promote lateral and vertical communication between staff at all levels. HR, internal comms and senior staff naturally sit at the heart of the processes as the people responsible for messaging surrounding wellbeing in all forms.

An open-door policy, confidentiality and really listening to employees will give senior leaders valuable insight into how company culture might improve mental health. If it is openly discussed as something that impacts many, affected staff may be more willing to come forward and ask for help. This is why companies are well advised to train senior leaders to recognise and deal with mental health and general wellbeing issues. And that’s precisely why, here at DRPG, we have trained Mental Health First Aiders in all areas of the business.

Help can come in different guises. In some cases, it may be suitable to create tailor-made, flexible work schedules for specific employees, making sure they fit their position, circumstance and personality. In other cases, more communication between teams may help. More collegial discussions and spaces online and in the office, where these can be held, will create a sense of community and combat the separation and isolation that many workers have reportedly experienced.

Human connection is central to improving wellbeing, so making sure all your people know there’s at least one person they can talk to will go a long way.

What lies beneath There are many complex causes of poor mental health that workers deal with in the office and at home. BITC’s Mental Health at Work 2019 Report claims that 25% of UK workers experience intense and stressful workplace environments.

Some of the main causes cited as being at the root of the experienced mental health issues include: Pressure, having too many priorities or goals etc. 52%; Workload, staff has to work overtime and/or rarely take leave 36%; Financially difficulties 34%; Not being supported in their roles 35%.

Including such causes in company-wide communications can be quite helpful and allows for a more inclusive approach. Whenever we discuss wellbeing and the things which impact it, it becomes more accepted for discussions to continue on a personal level. Some staff may be surprised to see that many of these issues may affect them, a rather big part of the workforce and the UK in general. This is where internal comms functions as a junction between HR and employees. They play an important part in your company’s strategy for wellbeing.

Are you looking to improve your employee satisfaction rates and your businesses mental health support structures? Our internal comms team can help you guide the narrative. Send us an email at anythingspossible@drpgroup.com or give us a call on 0207 937 8057.