October 2, 2015
With one in four adults experiencing a mental health condition in any given year, a caring and supportive boss is the missing link between employee engagement and mental health. This was the message of a MetLife breakfast briefing in partnership with Buck Consultants at Xerox, where the impact of ignoring mental health in the workplace was discussed. MetLife’s UK Employee Benefit Trends Study has found that for every one point increase in “having a caring and supportive boss” there is a 9 percent increase in employee engagement. Key themes of the briefing included the best strategies for identification and prevention of mental health issues, and how to build a more resilient workforce. It also emerged that employers are almost unaware of the negative impact insufficient sleep has on employees’ mental wellbeing, yet along with stress and work life balance – insufficient sleep is seen as a key health concern.
Tom Gaynor, Employee Benefits Director of MetLife UK, said: “Line managers can be a major driver or limiter of performance, but by supporting their employees they can help create a more motivated and engaged workforce.
“Early recognition of mental health issues and intervention can help prevent a challenging situation become a crisis. Therefore it’s important that managers are also supported by their employers with access to employee assistance programmes targeted at helping them to help their people. Having practical approaches in place can help employees feel more confident about discussing mental health issues with their line managers.”
Chris Evans, Senior Consultant at Buck Consultants at Xerox said: “Stress and depression are the two leading reasons that prompt employers to implement a wellness strategy. However there is still a stigma attached to mental health issues, which can be seen as a sign of weakness.
“Overcoming this and developing a culture of acceptance can help raise awareness and understanding. Committing to having a wellness strategy in place is the important first step to prevention and building resilience.”
It is clear good mental and physical health are essential for wellbeing. Conversely, poor mental and physical health are strong indicators of forthcoming stress-related episodes, sub-standard performance and absence from work.
By spotting the signs amongst their team members, organisations can look at practical ways to improve health and resilience, improve stress management and in turn expect to see engagement and productivity improve as a result. All further supported by the tools they have available to them through their employee benefits offerings.