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October 7, 2020

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mental health

‘Workplaces are becoming more open to discussing mental health, but work is still leading to poor mental health for many’

Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index recognises and celebrates best practice around workplace wellbeing. The Index also provides key recommendations on how organisations can improve wellbeing, enabling them to find out what they are doing well and where their approach can be improved to help ensure better mental health in the workplace. Mind’s Head of Workplace Wellbeing Programmes (Strategy and Development), Faye McGuinness  explains more about the Index and looks at some of its key findings. 

Faye McGuinnessThe Workplace Wellbeing Index is now in its third year and nearly 44,000 employees took part from a range of different organisations in 2018/2019. With key changes in how we work brought about by the coronavirus outbreak, the need for all employers to prioritise the mental health of their employees has never been more apparent.

The key findings of our 2018/2019 Workplace Wellbeing Index are:

1. Workplaces are becoming more open to discussing mental health

64% of employees feel that their organisation encourages openness and discussion compared to 53% in the previous year. Many organisations understand that supporting staff mental health is about creating the right culture, rather than one-off actions. There is still work to be done, however.

We want to see all organisations sending a clear signal to staff that their mental health matters and that being open about it will lead to support, not discrimination. To encourage this open culture, employees must be confident about how the information they share will be used and that policies that encourage staff to be open and seek support are clear and fair. This open culture is particularly vital with many employees now working remotely or facing new, additional restrictions and challenges within their working lives.

2. Work is still leading to poor mental health for many

The number of employees who have experienced poor mental health due to work, or at their current employer, in the past year has increased from 66% the previous year to 71%. Awareness around mental health has increased significantly, with more employees talking about their experiences, but there is still more to be done.

Employers need to address the impact of the working environment on employee mental health. Research shows that a good job is one where:

  • People feel in control;
  • They have some autonomy over their work;
  • They can build social networks;
  • They have a healthy work/life balance;
  • They have opportunities to develop.

3. More than half of the employees we surveyed feel anxious at work

The number of employees reporting anxiety at work has risen from 49% in the previous year to 52%. Employees told us they are experiencing pressure, an unmanageable workload and a lack of support.

Managers need to ensure they are seen as approachable and listen when employees ask for support, particularly bearing in mind the additional pressures of the coronavirus pandemic, and the reactive changes this has brought to roles and workloads. Organisations need to do more to encourage employees to disclose when they are struggling and to signpost them to effective internal and external support.

4. Managers need more support to improve employee wellbeing

55% of employees feel that their manager supports their mental health compared to 53% in the previous year, but this leaves a lot of room for further improvement. Managers acknowledge that they need to do more but often face other organisational pressures and don’t always receive the training or support they need themselves.

Employers can support their managers by taking positive steps such as; providing training on mental health and stress management – including how to spot the signs and how to have supportive conversations with staff, having clear guidelines for managers on managing mental health and encouraging and supporting positive manager behaviours.

5. Wellbeing support tools need to improve

Our Index found that of the 41% of employees who accessed support when they were struggling, only 21% found them useful. Employers have made great strides in raising awareness of the support tools they have in place for employees but it is clear these tools need to be expanded upon and improved. With many people working remotely due to the pandemic, and with that trend predicted to continue, the need for high quality online wellbeing tools is greater than ever.

Organisations should explain what internal and external mental health and wellbeing support is available to employees, and all line managers should receive training on this information so that they can signpost staff to it when they need it most.

Where do we go from here?

Mind has responded to huge demand for information about how to cope with your mental health during coronavirus. We all continue to face huge disruption both personally and professionally due to the outbreak, and we are yet to understand the long-term impact that this will have on our mental health. This means there has never been a more important time for employers to prioritise the mental health of staff.

For organisations looking to improve their approach to the wellbeing of their employees and better support the mental health of their staff, registrations for the Mind Workplace Wellbeing Index 2020/21 are open now.

You can register, hear from our current participants and find out more about the Index here.

The survey will take place from January to March 2021, with announcements of the Index Awards in early June 2021.

You can read the full report of our 2018/2019 Workplace Wellbeing Index findings here.

Mind is the official charity partner of the Workplace Wellbeing Show.

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