‘Third of business leaders have seen increase in absence due to mental health issues’

One in three business leaders have noticed an increase in the length of time that staff are taking off due to mental health issues, according to a new survey.

stress levels


The survey of over 1,000 business leaders from every region and nation of the UK was conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce and Aviva. They say it suggests that mental health is becoming more of a focus for firms and that they are supporting staff with mental health issues, from reviewing individual workloads (36%) and flexible working options (35%), to organising counselling for staff (20%) and training for managers to better support staff (18%).

However, nearly half (49%) of those surveyed said that they did not access occupational health support for their staff from external bodies, and 10% were not aware of any available support.

Health and wellbeing of employees

Adam Marshall, BCC Director General, said:“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.

“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. Reviewing workloads, considering flexible working practices, and improving the skills of managers are simple measures that can help all firms build a happier and more productive workforce.”

Dr Doug Wright, medical director at Aviva, added:“Looking at our claims data for protection insurance we know that mental health conditions are the number one reason for rehabilitation referrals and that early intervention by experts can bring a huge benefit to employees, helping them make a safe and timely return to work.

“It is therefore important to look at what health and wellbeing initiatives are on offer to staff to make sure they have a breadth of options to support them. Doing so will reap rewards for both employee and employer.”

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