Almost one-third of businesses have seen an increase in the number of staff taking time off for mental health reasons, according to a new survey.
The poll of over 1,000 UK business leaders, conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and insurer Aviva, has found that 30% of firms have seen more staff taking time off for mental health reasons and 33% have seen an increase in the length of time that staff are taking off.
The report suggests that firms are more aware of mental health concerns in the workplace and that the topic is becoming less taboo for both employees and employers.
The findings also show that employers are doing more to support staff, including:
- Reviewing individual workloads (36%);
- Providing flexible working options (35%);
- Organising counselling for staff (20%);
- Training managers to better support staff (18%).
However, the report concludes that firms could do more. Dr Doug Wright, medical director at Aviva, said: "It is … worrying to see almost a third of businesses have seen an increase in people taking time off for mental health reasons and whilst some of this increase may be down to staff feeling more able to discuss the issue of mental health which is, in itself, good news, it also suggests that more can be done to help."
Adam Marshall, BCC director general, said: "While legions of firms are now more aware of mental health concerns and acting accordingly, far too many businesses are still turning a blind eye to this issue, which saps productivity, morale and individual wellbeing. Our message today is that it is no longer acceptable for firms to ignore mental health in the workplace, and all companies need to step up their game."
Tackling mental health concerns in business "need not break the bank", he added. Reviewing workloads, considering flexible working practices and improving the skills of managers can help build a happier and more productive workforce.
"As the world of work changes, it is absolutely crucial for business leaders to pay ever closer attention to the health and wellbeing of their employees - especially at a time when firms are facing severe challenges finding and retaining the skilled staff they need."