Written by Mark Allan, Commercial Director at Bupa UK Insurance
Today Bupa UK, in partnership with Business in the Community and the BITC Wellbeing Leadership Team, have launched the Mental Health at Work 2020 study.
The study, which has charted the changing attitudes towards mental health for the past five years, is a temperature check of frontline employees’ wellbeing and how they are really dealing with seismic changes to their working life. What is clear from this year’s findings is that employees are feeling the pressure, and new ways of working, isolation from colleagues, and the growing uncertainty of the future is impacting the mental health of many.
Key findings from the study include:
- 41% of employees say they have experienced poor mental health where work was a contributing factor, up from 39% in 2019.Pressure was identified as the most common cause of work-induced mental health issues this year (51%), while another 35% put symptoms down to workload, long hours, and not taking enough leave.
- Concerningly, three in 10 (30%) employees affected by poor mental health admit to telling nobody about it, up from 2019 (27%), even though early diagnosis is recognised as having a positive impact on the long-term prognosis of mental health conditions.
- But in the wake of a challenging year for mental health, there are some positive signs. 58% of workers now feel that their line managers – often on the frontline of mental health support in companies – have communicated well during the pandemic.
- Workplaces, whether virtual or physical, have taken huge strides in providing valuable support for employees when it comes to mental health. Three quarters of UK workers (76%) report that their colleagues are considerate of their mental wellbeing, and 69% believe the same of their managers.
Whilst organisations have made impressive progress in the face of more than six months of disruption, the pandemic has increased the urgency for them to develop wellbeing strategies that promote positive mental health. This is needed more than ever particularly as workforces remain dispersed across the country, workloads are changing, and job security is uncertain for many.
With local lockdowns already in place and potential for further measures, business leaders need to address these challenges quickly and ensure they are creating a supportive wellbeing culture. Doing more to promote positive mental health will help employees in the face of ongoing challenges but also build a stronger workforce for years to come.
In line with the findings BITC and Bupa are encouraging organisations to continue to prioritise employee wellbeing as cases rise and workers face more uncertainty as the pandemic continues.
The Mental Health at Work Commitment is a set of actions that any organisation can follow to improve and support the mental health of their people:
- Prioritise mental health in the workplace by developing and delivering a systematic programme of activity
- Proactively ensure work design and organisation culture drive positive mental health outcomes
- Promote an open culture around mental health
- Increase organisational awareness and confidence in mental health with training, education, and resources for managers and individuals
- Provide mental health tools and support
- Increase transparency and accountability through internal and external reporting
View the research summary and accompanying infographic.