Workplace absence costs UK businesses £18 billion per year in lost productivity, according to research by Firstcare and The Centre for Economic and Business, and a rising number of absences are related to stress and anxiety.
According to Firstcare, the number one cause of absence from work is musculoskeletal conditions, which are often associated with stress and poor posture. The number two cause is stress and anxiety, creating a ‘sicknificant’ cost for businesses.
A report published by the Mental Health Foundation to mark this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week entitled, ‘Surviving or Thriving’ painted a worrying picture about the state of Britain’s mental health. Just 13% of people told researchers they have good mental health.
At Activ Absence we believe that stress is a rising workplace epidemic employers just can’t afford to ignore. The CIPD reported that one in three people have suffered from mental health issues, but this new Mental Health Foundation report suggests that figures could be far higher.
Often employers are only aware of issues when an employee is signed off sick with stress, which is too late – by this point, productivity could have been affected for months and the employee will have suffered both at home and work – it’s a lose-lose for everyone involved.
It doesn’t have to be this way. With current, affordable technology, companies can monitor employee absence patterns and feedback from return to work interviews to produce detailed reports and analysis which show the true picture of health and mental wellbeing of their workforce.
These powerful insights will ensure accurate targeting of staff wellbeing initiatives so that critical wellness spending is not wasted, and can help HR and line managers proactively identify employees with possible mental health challenges at an earlier stage, enabling better workplace support.
We would like to see employers encouraging greater openness about mental health so sufferers don’t feel isolated, stigmatized or scared they will lose their jobs if they admit to having problems. It’s important to send a clear message that workers who are suffering from stress or depression will receive support and not judgement.
With open and regular communications about mental health issues, good tracking and monitoring of absence data to keep on top of issues and by proactively signposting support services available through EAPs, such as counselling, companies can take big strides towards improving the mental wellbeing of their workforce.