Why should mental health be your business strategy?

We recently spoke about how well-being is critical to business success, now we’re going to be looking at why mental health should be in your business strategy.

Since 2016, the cost of mental health has risen by 16%, costing employers up to £45 billion per year. This is a cost that with the right understanding, intervention and support plans for employees can be drastically reduced. To summarise why mental health should be in your business strategy we can give you these three simple points:

  • Better functioning of a business
  • Reduced risk of mental health cost
  • Improved employee stress management, relationships and productivity

If you haven’t already, take a look at our last blog to understand how well-being is important.

Once you’ve got an understanding of that we can start to put into place the concept of why you need it in your business strategy.

Have a think about what you currently cover in your business strategy;

  • What drives your actions?
  • What factors are involved in your decision making?
  • What goals do you have as a company in your industry?

We know that a business strategy is what you’re going to be using to make your decisions and reach your goals. To understand why we need mental health to be part of the action to reach your business goals, we need to understand the impact it can have. To do this, we’re going to take a look at the impact on both employers and employees.


The Mental Health Impact on Employees

In 2015-2016 there were 488,000 reported cases of work-related stress, anxiety, and depression. With 84% of employees having experienced physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms of mental health where work was a contributing factor, there is a clear problem here.

Research identified that 35% of employees did not approach anyone for support on the most recent occasion they experienced poor mental health.

In addition to this, 86% said they would think twice before offering to help a colleague whose mental health they were concerned about.

Mental health problems at work can have a negative impact on employees’ performance, increased absenteeism and employee morale.


The Mental Health Impact on Employers

As we said at the beginning, the cost of mental health for employers can be excessive.

Corporate Support

The cost of mental health per employee per year was £1,035 in 2007 which has now grown to £1,304 based on our research.

Only 2 in 5 employees are working at peak performance due to their mental health inhibiting their performance.

Studies suggest that presenteeism from mental ill health alone costs the UK economy £15.1 billion per annum, in what is almost twice the business cost as actual absence from work.

Essentially mental health is an area that is costing businesses a vast amount of money, including relevant interventions and plans in a business strategy doesn’t just go towards reducing this risk but it is essential for business survival.

Now we’ve had a look at the impact mental health is having on both employers and employees, we’ll go through what we can get from adding it into our business strategies.

Without mental health or well-being in our business strategies, there is only so far your plans and goals can go.

Mental health can sometimes act as an extraneous variable or a factor which can be forgotten when planning a business strategy. From the points above, we can see the negative risks that come with mental health and from this we can see the detriment it can have on a business. Even with the best and most reliable decisions being made to reach your business goals, if you and your staff are not supported and their mental health is suffering then their goals and ultimately your goals will be affected. Adding mental health to your business strategy can have a number of benefits. What’s important to remember is starting a conversation about mental health with your employees doesn’t need to be difficult.

It can be as simple as asking someone how they are doing and meaning it. Not just asking in passing but having time to purely ask how people are without a business agenda to it. Getting this conversation going can be the one step someone needs to reflect and recognise that they’re not OK and start the process of getting better. No one is expecting you to be a counsellor or therapist for your staff and having these kinds of discussions doesn’t need to feel like that.

There are other ways to support people, such as encouraging them to maintain their 5 pillars of well-being (again have a look at our last blog of How Well-being is Critical to Business Success to learn more about this) and the 5 Pillars of Well-being for business can be downloaded for free!

Most importantly is that this should not be a one-off discussion. If someone feels like they are being supported, if that can’t be maintained then it can do more damage than good. Connect with each other by incorporating monthly check in sessions, give your time to people that are struggling, encourage them to go for a walk or do that hobby they love and spend some time just to reflect. These are all simple things that can make a big difference.

When making your business strategy set your goals for the business, then put in some realistic activities and plans to ensure the well-being of your employees is being upheld resulting in the best performance possible. Alternatively, if there is something coming up that is going to impact well-being, how is it going to impact their well-being and what can be put in place to make sure the risk is mitigated.

Communicate this with your staff and make it a strategy that benefits everyone and the business.

Find out more about our IMPROVE Programme for Business

The statistics in this blog are all taken from research conducted by Deloitte January 2020.