Would Employees Prefer a 3% Pay Rise or Better Line Manager Support for Their Mental Health?

It has become obvious there is a clear link between employee mental wellbeing and productivity across the UK workforce. There is also now an expectation from employees for the issue to be addressed.

As such we’ve conducted Investors in People’s (IIP) first annual mental health report in UK workplaces, conducted across a variety of ages, genders and industries to build a balanced response to the questions employees are asking regarding workplace mental health support within their organisations.

Key workplace statistics

  • 50% trust their manager with a mental health concern
  • 35 % consider leaving their current job due to stress
  • 59% say work has impacted their mental health at some point
  • 54% would discuss a mental health concern with a colleague
  • 80% have felt stress at work
  • 78% feel less productive when stressed at work
  • 54% have experienced work-related stress whilst at home
  • 36% say their workplace supports mental wellbeing

This all adds up to 15.8 Million days off work for mental health issues.

What are the main causes?

Causes are likely to be specific to individual organisations to identify but research shows that the main reasons is due to intense workloads (40%) and poor management (20%).

What can employers do?

1. Supporting a team’s mental health starts with having line managers that are trained to deal with these situations. A report by Investors in People has proven that all sectors, ages and genders, employees want managers that they trust and can offer effective support for their mental health concerns.

2. Every workplace will have specific issues through the demands and stresses acting on its employees, so listen to those individual needs. Responsible employers recognise these and look to reduce their effects.

3. Individuals also have mental health issues in different ways. There is no holistic approach for employees when dealing with mental health concerns. So, ensuring there is flexibility to develop solutions that are specific to individual needs.

4. Cultivate a culture where people are not afraid to talk to their line manager about any issues that relate to a mental health concern.

5. Mental health conditions aren’t always clear in those who are struggling with them, particularly if they chose to hide them. So encourage open and honest relationships with colleagues.

3% pay rise or fix these issues?

• 27% of workers said they would rather have a healthcare package than a 3% rise in pay.
• 25% would also rather have a trustworthy manager.
• 20% believed that support for their mental health was more important.

Further considerations

The age brackets that have experienced work-related stress at home the most were 18-24 and 55+. Within the 55+ category 78% of them claimed to have experience it.

It was found that men are less likely to admit to feeling stressed and less likely to feel like they could talk to their colleagues about their mental health issues. However, 83% of women admit to feeling stressed at work.

The sectors reporting the highest levels of stress included Social care, Healthcare, Recruitment, Charity and Law.

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A number of sectors reported poor management as their main cause of stress, polling the highest were – Law Enforcement, Creative Arts and Hospitality. The fact that the so many have identified stress as a factor in their working lives should convince business managers and leaders that they must do more and will hopefully be able to see that the return on investment will pay off.

Investors in People have been making work better for organisations across the world since 1991. They’ve worked with over 11 million people during that time, and are on a mission to make work better. Because happy people are healthier people, and healthier people are more productive.
Productive people are good for business, and in turn, society.


About the author





Paul has been heading up Investors in People as CEO since 2011. He led the buyout of the organisation from UK Government ownership into it becoming a Community Interest Company in 2017. Moving away from Government has allowed Investors in People to significantly redevelop and expand their products, and now they offer various accreditations that make work better. In a previous life, Paul was the head of Organisational Development for the Scottish Prison Service.


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