A new report by GoodShape[i] has revealed that mental health issues were the main reason for people taking time off work this year – with people taking on average 18.8 days off. They also highlight that over half of workers (54%) o who take two or more mental health-related absences, will go on to leave their jobs.
Given these statistics, Adrian Lewis, Commercial Director at Activ People HR says it’s more important than ever for employers to look after their staff and providing mental health support should be top of their wellbeing agenda in 2022.
Adrian says, “The past two years have taken their toll on people and we’re seeing growing numbers with mental health issues. The challenges of lockdowns and remote working, worries about getting Covid-19 and dealing with bereavements, along with financial concerns have all had a big impact on people’s mental wellbeing.
“This report shines a light on how big an issue this is, and highlights that if people aren’t supported when they first take time off with a mental health issue, they may end up leaving their jobs – not great news for businesses already struggling with staff shortages. Employers should take mental health seriously and put measures in place to spot the early signs someone is struggling and provide support where needed.”
A key challenge though for employers is finding out who is suffering from poor mental health[ii]. In August, a survey by Lime Insurance[iii] found that half (51%) of workers said they felt under pressure to put on a brave face at work, while four in 10 said they felt less resilient since the Covid crisis struck.
Also, fewer than one in six (16%) said they felt their mental health was very well supported at work, despite 81% wanting their employers to give them help with their mental wellbeing.
Adrian adds, “One of the simplest ways employers can spot the signs that someone is struggling is by tracking absence using absence management software, and not relying on spreadsheets or paper-based methods to record sick leave. Software enables managers to see patterns of behaviour more easily, such as someone always off on a Monday or an increase in people taking sick days.
“The software also prompts return to work interviews which are an opportunity to open up a conversation around why someone has been off. It maybe they have just had a physical illness but providing a safe space to talk can help people feel more comfortable bringing up concerns which could be red flags that someone is suffering from stress, anxiety or even depression.
“Once an employer knows this then they can offer support such as addressing work related pressures that are contributing to poor mental wellbeing or directing people to counselling or other support services. With people encouraged to work from home again having software that can be accessed no matter where people are working can ensure the signs of poor mental health don’t get missed.
“As we head into a new year, looking after people’s mental wellbeing has never been more important. It can mean the difference between someone staying in work or leaving and can show that you are a caring employer, which will help with recruitment and retention.”
For more information on Active People HR visit: www.activpeoplehr.co.uk.