Companies spend a small fortune each year trying to improve productivity, often this means engaging with a management consultancy or investing in expensive software.
But all too often this results in disappointing returns for investors. Sometimes the productivity gains don’t materialise or are short-lived. No wonder then that UK productivity levels remain historically low.
But a new report from Deloitte shows that greater productivity gains could be made by focusing on staff wellbeing.
The report which was compiled in association with the mental health charity Mind shows that poor mental health is costing UK employers £45bn a year.
One of the biggest issues highlighted by the report is presenteeism – defined as workers being on the job but, not fully functioning due to illness or other mental conditions – which is estimated to cost UK employers between £26bn and £29bn in lost productivity each year.
That is more than four times the cost associated with absenteeism, estimated at £6.8bn and three times the cost associated with known mental health issues, estimated at £8.6bn.
This report backs up a previous study from the University of Warwick which showed that four-fifths (80%) of UK workers struggled with mental health issues which affected their performance at work. While 67% of workers failed to tell their employer about the issue.
How employers can support staff experiencing mental health issues
So with mental health being such an important factor for staff performance, how can employers address mental health issues in the workplace?
The first step to addressing workplace wellbeing is to raise awareness about the problem with your staff. This will make them much more likely to come forward with any issues they may be suffering.
The next step is to equip management with the skills they need to deal with issues surrounding mental health and stress at work. This will let your employees know that assistance, advice and support are available should they need it.
Office culture should also be examined to ensure that performance targets can be achieved without staff being forced to work unreasonable hours. Staff working hours should also be monitored to ensure no one is working more hours than is necessary.
All staff should also be given clearly defined job descriptions and provided with the appropriate training and resources to do their job properly. They should also be backed up by good management who understand their needs and deliver the support they require.
Finally, conflicts should be managed effectively and practices put in place to ensure the workplace is free from bullying, harassment, discrimination and racism. Procedures should be put in place to deal with such conflicts and staff made aware of what they are. This will ensure all employees know where to turn should they experience an issue.
Investing in employee wellness can have a massive impact, not just on staff morale, but on the bottom line. The Deloitte report shows that employers can expect a return of £5 for every £1 spent on mental health. So it’s time to throw away those draconian management practices and start investing in your staff wellbeing. The chances are it will be the best investment you’ll ever make.