Work is creating mental health issues for two in five employees

mental healthAlthough two in five (39 percent) UK workers experienced symptoms of poor mental health related to work in the last year, according to a report released by Business in the Community (BITC), in partnership with Mercer Marsh Benefits and BITC’s Wellbeing Leadership Team. The report also claims that most employers do not acknowledge or deal with the adverse impact work has on employees’ health.

According to the authors of  the report,  of the 39 percent of employees surveyed who have experienced poor mental health due to work, a third (33 percent) said that this was caused by negative work relationships (see table 1). One in four (24 percent) of those with work-related health problems explicitly cited bullying and harassment from their manager as a major cause. The report is based on YouGov survey data from more than 4,000 employees.

Mental and physical health needs to be considered equally important by employers.  The report sets out key recommendations to show businesses how to create positive, inclusive workplace cultures that help rather than harm the mental health of the people who work for them.

Other report findings:

  • The survey revealed a significant disconnect between company board members’ perceptions of how health is treated within their companies and what the rest of the organisation thinks. More than half (51 percent) of those at a CEO or board level believed that their organisation effectively supports its staff, compared with 38 percent of those without line management responsibilities.
  • There are barriers to managers providing effective support with more than six in ten (62 percent) managers saying they have had to put the interest of their organisation above staff wellbeing.
  • Only 7 percent of all employees have received training to recognise workplace stress factors.
  • One in three (33 percent) with mental health problems said that they felt ignored.
  • Around one in ten (9 percent) were subject to disciplinary action, demotion or dismissal following the disclosure of mental health issues.
  • One in ten workers resigned as a result, a figure which has plateaued since 2017.

Based on the report findings, Business in the Community have made three calls to action for businesses to help achieve better health for the UK workforce:

  • Create good work that enhances mental health. Good work is created by elements including security, fair pay and professional development.
  • Acknowledge and support employees experiencing poor mental health, whatever the cause.
  • Publicly report your wellbeing performance.