Chamber calls on businesses to tackle mental health

A spike in staff absenteeism has prompted Cumbria Chamber of Commerce to call on businesses to do more to tackle mental health issues in the workplace.

Mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and unmanageable stress affect one-in-six British workers.

And research suggests the problem is growing.

Almost 30% of businesses have seen an increase in the number of staff taking time off for mental health reasons while a similar proportion report an increase in the length of time that staff are absent.

It is crucial for businesses to pay close attention to the health and wellbeing of employees – especially when firms are facing challenges finding and retaining staff.

The findings come from a survey of 1,000 businesses carried out by the British Chambers of Commerce and insurer Aviva.

Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is crucial for businesses to pay close attention to the health and wellbeing of employees – especially when firms are facing challenges finding and retaining staff.

“While many businesses are aware of mental health concerns, and act accordingly, too many turn a blind eye. This is an issue that saps productivity, morale and individual wellbeing.”

Cumbria Chamber has recorded a podcast with Caroline Robinson, of the mental health charity Mind, to advise employers how to handle mental health.

Businesses can listen to the podcast and download guides for employers, line managers and employees at: www.cumbriachamberofcommerce.co.uk/podcast-dont-let-mental-health-cost-your-business-dear/

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

Rob added: “Tackling mental health concerns need not break the bank. Reviewing workloads, considering flexible working and improving the skills of managers are simple measures that can help build a happier and more productive workforce.”

The British Chambers’ survey suggests that businesses are becoming more aware of mental health and that the topic is less of a taboo than it once was.

Employers are supporting staff by reviewing individual workloads (36%), offering flexible working options (35%), organising counselling (20%) and training managers to offer better support to staff (18%).

However, the research suggests that businesses could do more. Nearly half (49%) of those surveyed did not access occupational health support for staff from external bodies and 10% were unaware such support existed.

Find out more about how the Chamber can support your business here.