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Poor mental health is costing UK employers up to £45 billion

5 min read | 27 January, 2020 By Sarah Benstead


In the UK and across the globe, mental health issues are more common than ever.

In today's workplace, you can assume that 1 in 6 of your employees are struggling with their mental health at any given time. 

But, it's only in recent years that the issue has grabbed our full attention.

With mental health hitting many headlines and being shouted about by a number of big names, it's hit home just how important it is for mental health to be taken seriously in the workplace. 

And this isn't just because it's the right thing to do - poor mental health can cause a serious dent in the bank, too, according to a new report by Deloitte.

The consultancy firm revealed that mental ill-health at work is costing UK employers 16% more than since their last report in 2017.

But, all is not lost - the report highlights some positive developments, too - but there's still no escaping from the fact we still have a long way to go. 

Let's take a look at some of Deloitte's key findings and what they mean for small businesses in 2020. 

Poor mental health is more costly than ever

One of the headline statistics in the new report is the eye-watering price UK businesses are having to pay for poor mental health. 

According to the new report, mental ill-health is now costing businesses up to £45 billion every year - a worrying 16% increase since Deloitte's last report just 3 years ago. 

This is broken down into:

Leavism is on the rise

Closely linked with employee burnout, 'leavism' is the term used to describe an inability to switch off from work, mainly caused by an increased use of technology and an 'always-on' culture. 

Leavism often sees employees working beyond their allocated hours, during time off or when they're off sick. 

The report found that:

  • 28% of people say they find it difficult to switch off mentally from their work, due to increased connectivity
  • 26% of people say that the expectation to be 'always on' interferes with their personal life
  • 1 in 5 people say being constantly connected to work makes them feel mentally exhausted

Leading by example here is incredibly important. If you stay late regularly, your employees may see that as the 'norm' and follow in your shoes. 

Financial wellbeing is a growing concern

Money-worries can naturally take a huge toll on mental health. And equally, if someone is suffering with their mental health, it's more likely that they will struggle with money.

And, with unsecured debt said to be at its highest rate ever and the average debt per household sitting at around £15k, employers need to be pro-actively supporting their people and encouraging them to tackle their financial difficulties. 

Deloitte's report urges employers to consider:

  • Initiating and embedding cultural change
  • Providing financial management training
  • Increasing employer engagement
  • Providing financial support (where appropriate)

mental health in the workplace
Young people are the most vulnerable

One of the biggest things to come out of this report is there has been a significant rise in depression, anxiety and other mental health problems among young people.

The report describes them as 'the most vulnerable demographic' in the workplace.

Youngsters are statistically twice as likely to suffer from depression as the average worker. They're also more susceptible to 'leavism' and financial troubles.

The report suggests that the support young people are currently receiving is simply not enough, and a lot more needs to be done. 

Check out our mental health in the workplace guide for 10 practical ways you can support your people.

Investing in mental health support pays off

On average, employers now obtain a return of £5 for every £1 invested in mental health, according to Deloitte's new research. This is up from £4, which was the estimation in the 2017 report. 

It's suggested that in order to yield the highest return, employers should focus on large-scale preventative initiatives, cultural changes or technology/services to help support those in need.

Businesses are starting to prioritise mental health

Since 2017, there's been a prominent shift in the way businesses are thinking about mental health.

Employers have been talking more openly about mental health at work, prioritising support and focusing on tackling the stigma.

But there's no denying that we've still got a long way to go. 

Here's why:

  • 49% of employees still don't feel comfortable talking to their line manager about their mental health
  • 39% say that work had affected their mental health during the past year.

Next steps

Supporting employee mental health should be an integral part of your company culture. 

Here are some steps you can take to better support your people:

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Posted on 27 January, 2020

By Sarah Benstead

in Mental Health

Tag Mental Health

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