While it seemed that firms were starting to prioritise workplace wellbeing during COVID-19, employee mental health is down the list this year while managers lack relevant training, according to new research.
Employee mental health – causes and manager responses
Research commissioned by the South Westminster Business Alliance reveals that 21% of managers said supporting employee mental health is not a priority for their company in 2022, while a staggering 78% confess to struggling to spot the signs of poor mental health among staff.
Managers may be concerned about their ability to recognise mental health issues in the workforce, but so are employees, according to a corresponding employee survey that found that 64% are concerned their management can’t spot poor mental health, and 71% believe their managers would benefit from training to increase awareness.
As the pandemic recedes and office visits grow with many firms embracing hybrid working, employers may think staff mental health issues, which many have associated with working through COVID-19, will decrease.
However, London-based research from King’s College London and the South Westminster Business Alliance shows employee mental health should remain a priority as employee respondents reported their mental health concerns were due to “their respective professions rather than personal lives.”
A long-term approach is needed
While 49% of adults in England, according to a report by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID), reported worsening mental health due to the pandemic, staff mental health remains a long-term issue that won’t go away with the virus and requires long-term support.
In fact, the corresponding employee survey by South Westminster Business Alliance shows that hybrid working could create additional mental health challenges, including making signs easier for employees to hide (71%).
Employee mental health was an issue before the pandemic, during it, and will remain as the business world recovers, and is not only personal or caused by external factors like COVID-19.
With research showing that employee mental health problems can be tied directly to their jobs, firms that fail to prioritise staff mental health, such as training management to spot the warning signs, could find their teams are more absent, less motivated and likely to look for roles elsewhere.
While prioritising business recovery and performance following years of disruption from COVID-19 is logical, so is retaining and supporting talent by truly supporting their mental health.
Ruth Duston, CEO of the South Westminster Business Alliance and MD of Primera Corp said: “Businesses have shown huge resolve, in spite of ongoing uncertainty and lack of clarity, false starts and numerous knockbacks and the resolve to make this recovery a success is stronger than ever. However, we must draw our attention to supporting the workforce – as the backbone of our communities and economy.
“The reality is that employers must prioritise mental health and wellbeing in order to create the best chance for London’s economy to bounce back. It begins with the creation of open, inclusive dialogue so that staff can feel that they can express their worries. From there, businesses must build and refine their mental health offering and have buy-in from all levels of the organisation.”