Discover what the future might hold for the relationship between work and mental health, from the shop floor to the C-Suite…
1. A positive increase in mental health cases
According to the Validium Group, a UK-based employee assistance and wellbeing provider, ‘Every new piece of research has a higher figure for people admitting to having experienced a mental health condition.”
However, there will be some positive aspects for this upward trend because we are starting to discuss these issues more openly that before. “We are beginning to see MPs, CEOs and MDs in all areas of business vocalise their personal experience.”
2. The impact of leaving the EU
In an op-ed piece for The New European published in April, Professor Sir Cary L Cooper expresses his fear that the continual drip of feed of negative stories surrounding Brexit will lead to an increase in work related stress over the next few years. Cooper adds, “It is imperative that business leaders understand the potential negative effects of the Brexit process on individual employee’s health and wellbeing, as they struggle with the uncertainties and negativity of the coming months.”
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3. The promotion of good mental health
Employee benefits firm Unum anticipates, ‘the rise of the workplace that nurtures the mental health and encourages staff to take a break from their hyper-connected digital lifestyles will be more important in the future. 73% of workers feel they are expected to be ‘always on’ and available for work, which increases significantly their levels of stress and likelihood to leave their job.’ According to Unum, failing to address this issue by 2030 could cost British business £101 billion.
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4) The office environment
Monica Parker is a behaviourist and founder of organisational change consultancy Hatch, whose clients include Microsoft, Deloitte and the BBC. She believes the workplace of the future should be more focused on wellbeing. “The key to the best work environments that drive the highest performance is that they are evidence based,” she says. “You continually test and ensure it’s flexible enough that it can change with the continually changing needs of that workforce.”
This includes the way space is actually used every day and staff satisfaction with it and a consideration of balance and wellbeing – including whether workers feel they have support, for both their physical and mental health, from their employer.
Focusing only on office facilities can also lead to organisations putting the wrong person in control. Parker adds: “It will tend to fall to somebody who has a job title such as head of facilities or office manager – but really you should see this as a direct responsibility of the C-suite, the people kept awake at night thinking, ‘How do I get my people to be the highest performing?’”
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5) The role of the board
Earlier this year, the IoD published A Little More Conversation – mental health and the changing world of work. One of the proposals put forward is to make mental health as much of an issue at board level as it is for line managers and the HR dept. The report suggests that large firms should ‘consider giving a non-executive board member specific responsibility for ensuring mental health awareness and training is integrated across businesses.’
Another proposal from A Little More Conversation would see more involvement from the government ‘to trial a training scheme for small business owners to help them develop mental health policies.’
Read the report
Mental health in the workplace
The IoD is committed to raising awareness of mental health issues in the workplace, with a particular focus on opening up the conversation for small- and medium-sized businesses. We have created a hub packed full of helpful advice, best practice and useful resources, as well as shared experiences from business leaders.
Go to IoD mental health hub