As Threat Of Second Lockdown Looms Employees Look To Employers For Mental Health Support

A new study of 3,614 employees by Business in the Community (BITC) in partnership with Bupa UK and the BITC Wellbeing Leadership Team identified pressure 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 lack of annual leave during the pandemic.

Louise Aston, BITC’s Wellbeing Director will be expanding on key insights from this hot off the press research as part of the “Future of Work” panel at the virtual MAD World Summit on 8 October.

The study showed that the percentage of employees saying they have experienced poor mental health where work was a contributing factor was up from 39% in 2019 to 41% in 2020.

Concerningly, three in 10 (30%) employees affected by poor mental health admit to telling nobody about it, up from 2019 (27%). This is even though early diagnosis is widely recognised as having a positive impact on the long-term prognosis of mental health conditions.

On the plus side, despite the far-reaching effects of COVID-19 and the pressures of lockdown, 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.

And 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.

Yet only 37% of CEOs and boards are deemed considerate, suggesting more needs to be done at the top to promote a culture of good mental health.

Turning talk into action

In line with these 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:

  1. Prioritise mental health in the workplace by developing and delivering a systematic programme of activity
  2. Proactively ensure work design and organisation culture drive positive mental health outcomes
  3. Promote an open culture around mental health
  4. Increase organisational awareness and confidence in mental health with training, education, and resources for managers and individuals
  5. Provide mental health tools and support
  6. Increase transparency and accountability through internal and external reporting

Louise Aston, Wellbeing Director at Business in the Community, said:

“As we face the impending threat of a second lockdown, we need companies to keep stepping up for their employees.”

Mark Allan, Commercial Director for UK Insurance at Bupa, said:

“The pandemic has increased the urgency for organisations to develop wellbeing strategies that promote positive mental health, particularly as workforces are dispersed across the country, workloads are changing, and job security is uncertain for many. Therefore, it’s encouraging to see so many employers have risen to the challenge, and potentially limited the mental health impact of what has been an enormously disruptive six months for organisations and their people.

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Yet it’s clear that gaps remain, and employees are feeling pressure from workload, long hours, and lack of annual leave. 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. Promoting positive mental health will not only enable businesses to continue to provide support through the ongoing situation but also build a stronger workforce for years to come.”

David Oldfield, Chair of BITC’s Wellbeing Leadership team and Group Director of Commercial Banking at Lloyds Banking Group, said:

“The Mental Health at Work Commitment has laid the foundations for the improvements we can see in this research and will be a crucial tool for all organisations in the real test to come: how to make this year’s results the start of a trend, not an exception.”

David Oldfield will be talking more about this as part of the panel “Thriving at work: a call to action” at this year’s virtual MAD World Summit on 8 October.

Read the MAD World event preview here.

The digital MAD World Summit is on 8 October is the global go-to online event for employers who want to Make A Difference to workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing. We are also running Make a Difference Summit US in Association with Mind Share Partners on 15 October and Make a Difference Summit Asia on 11 November, 2020. Pick and choose the content most relevant to you or attend all the digital events with our Global Pass. You can find out more and register here.

About the author

Claire Farrow is the Global Director of Content and Programming for the Mad World and Make a Difference Summits. She also drives the content for Make A Difference News. Claire is on a mission to help every employer – large, medium and small – get the insight, inspiration and contacts they need to make real impact on workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing in their organisation. She has been freelance for more than 15 years. During that time, she has had the honour of working with many leading publishers, including the New York Times




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